Emptied Of Ourselves

Someone recently told me that they suffer from the fear of missing out. With a straight face. She was dead serious. She actually had a physician tell her that she is possibly suffering from this “disease”. I tried not to laugh. To humor myself I googled it. Get out! It’s a thing. A real life phobia.

Athazagoraphobia:  “noun. An irrational fear of being forgotten or replaced”.

Oh, Dear Lawd! I could feel it coming. My biblical tirade. I choked it down. “Wow! I’m so sorry” was all I could come up with. Their $40 co-pay went to someone who decided tacking on one more label to an already confused person was a good thing. I really wanted to call this Doctor and educate her. But then I realized it doesn’t matter.  Nothing I say is going to make a difference. She has to work it out for herself. Come to the epiphany on her own.

So let me tell you what doctor of biblical studies Elizabeth thinks (you know that’s sarcasm right?). We can not be full of the Holy Spirit until we are emptied of ourselves. If the Lord can’t get us to leave a situation, relationship, lifestyle on our own accord? He causes our circumstances to change. That falling away of self causes extreme loneliness. It causes depression. It causes deep grief for what once was. He’s stripping away. He’s taking away the hangups, hiccups, and pride. He’s undoing the chains and releasing us from bondage.

Sometimes those emotions are so frightening we seek medical help. I get that. Been there done that.  We fill our ears, get them tickled, with words that help explain our pain. The feelings are real. I don’t discount that. But the Lord wants us to come to Him for the answers. When you love someone such as a  child, spouse, best friend,  or parent what do you want to do? Spend time with them!  One on one time to share news, stories, thoughts, feelings about their life and yours. When God pulls us away from social situations we feel completely alone. Left out. Unloved. The reality? He is so in love with us He wants us all to Himself. He wants us to share our fears, sadness, loneliness, helplessness, heartache with Him. He wants that season of our lives all to Him. So that He can mend us. Heal us. Strengthen us. Love us. Build us up so that He can release us back into the world made brand new in His sight.

The process is excruciating. Sometimes paralyzing. But He has us in the palm of His hand. When we can shed our pride and our fear God is able to do amazing things in our lives. Mental illness is very real. There was a time in my life when I was so paralyzed with fear and depression that I didn’t want to participate in daily life. I understand it and I’m not making light of it. Psychologists couldn’t help. My husband couldn’t help. Someone invited me to a bible study. For five years the Lord sloughed off and made new what was once dull and broken. I remember sleeping with the bible on my face. I would read scripture before I went to sleep. I’d leave the open bible on my face. All the while praying for God to rearrange my brain. Change my thought process. Take away the pain of feeling left out, left behind, betrayed, not good enough, etc. etc..

There is no doubt that we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). God gives us that beautiful promise. But we have to want the help. His help. We have to trust that in that broken space and time He’s at work. In the silence He is there holding us up, retraining, regrouping, rearranging.  He’s closing doors to what once was. But if we can trust Him? Hang on? Cling to Him? What He has in store for us is better than anything we could have ever imagined for ourselves.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!”-2 Corinthians 5:17

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This Ain’t No Dress Rehearsal 

Recently I cornered my husband and made him engage in an unpleasant conversation. My funeral. Morbid? To me, the I have to plan everything girl, it was a normal conversation. He did not want to participate. “Elizabeth, that’s ridiculous. We both know I’ll go first. And when I do make sure it’s on the way to work”. Confused I said “Huh?” With a chuckle he replied “My life insurance will be worth more if it’s work related”. I was the one not amused.

The facts are indisputable: (1)we are all going to die (2) our earthly bodies have to be put somewhere. Like I said I’m a planner. I want to make sure that my family has planned for my home going. My husband plans estates for a living. I plan our lives. This only seems fitting to me.

I explained to my husband what I had in mind. In fact, a friend of ours came up with a fabulous idea. It’s so good that I asked her permission to share it. I do not want a large church service. I want a private family graveside service. I’ll leave the details up to my family. The rest I want to plan.

I want to throw a party. I want you to show up ready to celebrate! To throw down! I want everyone who has had the pleasure or displeasure of knowing me to come. There will be a band. (Liquid Pleasure would be perfect!) I want you to dance, laugh loudly, and love on every familiar and unfamiliar face that you see.

I want you to indulge in good ole’ eastern North Carolina barbecue, chicken salad, shrimp, fried chicken, biscuits, caramel cake, lemon squares, 12 layered chocolate cake, sweet tea and the adult beverages of your choice. I want there to be blue and white ginger jars and silver vases full of roses, tulips, hydrangeas and peonies.

If it’s warm I want you to see a room full of seersucker, bow ties, sundresses, pearls, sandals, and little girls barefoot in smocked dresses. Little boys in monogrammed John Johns. Am I painting a picture for you? Does this sound like a combination of Easter and a wedding reception? Because that is the point!

When this diseased body finally goes? I will be resurrected out of this temporal life up to heaven to be with my Bridegroom forever. It is a reason to have the largest party eastern North Carolina has ever seen. Not because of who I am (believe me I’m no one ) but because of where I will be going. Does that sound like the most phenomenal day ever?! It will be! No more tears no more sorrow. Healed, whole, and in our eternal home with our Savior.

You don’t think I’m serious do you? Neither did my husband. But I can assure you I have thought this through. And just to keep it exciting I want my family to play a video that I’ll prerecord. I will explain in no uncertain terms: (a) where I am (b) Why I am there (c)How I got there.  And I’ll give the invitation to anyone present to give their lives to Christ right there at the country club. Heck, on the dance floor if that suits your fancy! I live in a small town. People will be talking about it for years to come as a spectacle  or a miracle. “Did you hear about that Wooten funeral? Yes, the tacky one! I heard  they held a revival at the country club” or “Did you go to the Wooten reception? Oh my gosh, greatest day ever!”

I’ve buried two parents, walked a child through addiction, another through illness and been told my life expectancy is 10 years tops. This  ain’t no dress rehearsal. The only “do over” we get? A new life in Jesus Christ. It’s too important to miss! Who cares if your neighbors think you are nuts. Who cares if it’s not politically correct. It’s the right thing to do. It is securing your eternal place in heaven. It’s the most important thing you will ever do.

As we prepare for the Easter season prepare your heart for Him!  Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again so that you may have eternal life with Him.

The parties just getting started what are you waiting for?

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”-1 Peter 3:15