The Fall of the American Church
The Gender of God
When the Storm Comes Back For More
When I was 12 years old, I went to my best friend at the time’s house for a sleepover. We’d do this often, considering we were little middle school girls whose very nature was to simply gossip about boys and laugh at stupid videos on the internet. One night when I slept over, she told me she wanted to watch a scary movie. Well, on one hand, I grew up in a house where my parents kept me aware of the reality of spiritual warfare and cautioned me to NEVER open the door to that kind of stuff (meaning scary movies, ouija boards, & even playing bloody mary mirror game). On the opposite hand, I was such a submissive people pleaser and HATED telling people no-- especially those whose opinions I cared about the most. So, I said yes to the scary movie, thinking, “one scary movie isn’t going to kill me.” We ended up watching all 3 paranormal activity movies in one sitting at 2am. To say I was terrified when I left her house is quite the understatement. I felt guilty for going against my parents & watching the movies, but more than anything, I was scared that I opened “the door.” And the truth is, I did.
I used to have nightmares. To call them nightmares doesn’t quite represent how horrifying they were, but either way, I woke up in a cold sweat almost every night I would fall asleep. They were awful. I would see creatures clawing at my legs, trying to drag me with them to wherever they were going. I would also have lucid dreams where I would wake up in the middle of the night and hallucinate things in my room. I would hallucinate spiders crawling on my pillow, cockroaches creep up and down my wall, and all sorts of insects invading my space. This caused me to develop insomnia, the inability to fall asleep. I would force myself awake so that I wouldn’t have these horrible dreams, and therefore got in the habit of not falling asleep and teaching my body to stay awake when it was dark outside. I would take benadryl in the morning and sleep through the first hour or so of my classes without getting caught. I would maybe get 8-9 hours of sleep a week.
I also started hearing more lies about myself that I hadn’t even thought about before. I began to see myself as an ugly, fat, unlovable psychopath. I really was losing my mind. I developed a minor eating disorder that caused me to spiral even more than I was before. Back then, I didn’t realize why all of these things were happening all at once, but I’ve learned that hindsight really is 20/20. Meanwhile, I never told anyone about the movies, the nightmares, and especially not my eating disorder. I thought if I told my parents, they’d be disappointed, angry, and/or disgusted with me. It was a long and dark battle that I kept hidden in my heart for awhile. I knew God could see all of it happening, but I wasn’t talking to Him much anyways because I figured He was still mad about me watching those awful movies. I ended up going to a youth group fall retreat pretty soon after my 13th birthday and I was genuinely excited to go, but only for the reasons any other 13 year old would be excited to go to a fall retreat. One of the last nights of the retreat, my youth pastor, Danny, went on stage in the middle of the worship set and said, “There is someone in this room who has been trying to keep their issues close to their chest. God is telling you to lay it down right here. Right now.” And at first I thought, “haha this ain’t about me lol no way” but then he said, “You know it’s you, stop doubting it and just come bring it to the altar.” I was mad. I didn’t want to lay it down, but Danny was right, I knew that word was for me. I went through it all in my head, asking myself if it’s worth it and I heard a voice in my spirit say, “I’m with you. let’s go change your life.” So I stood up, walked down the aisle to the altar, and collapsed to my knees in tears. I was quickly surrounded by a dozen of my fellow middle and high schoolers and felt every single one of their hands on me in prayer. “Here it is God. I’m tired. I’m ready for this to end.”
I told my small group leader about my insomnia and eating disorder, thinking she’d be pissed, but she just cried with me and held me. And that was exactly what I didn’t even know I needed. I didn’t need anyone to scare me with the health risks of bulimia or condemn me with scripture, I needed someone to remind me that my pain is shared with someone else and that there is always someone to hold me if I let them. After that night, I was able to get a full night’s rest for the first time in months and I haven’t had a single night hallucination since. And it’s all because I gave the Lord permission to take away something that wasn’t mine to begin with.
I’m sharing all of this to say this: Satan loves to use whatever he can to destroy us. And he’s so smart & good at what he does (he’s also been doing this for awhile so he’s pretty experienced). Now, his schemes in my life are more subtle, more slyish. He’ll crawl under my skin without me even realizing it and then attack when I’m caught off guard. The older and more spiritually mature I become, the sneakier he becomes. I don’t say this to give him any power over me, or to give him more credit than he deserves, I simply say it because it’s true. When I am without Jesus, I am nothing more than wounded prey walking alone at my own defense. Needless to say, we all know what eventually happens to that isolated prey. When the enemy attacks, I am still learning how to run straight to the Lord, my greatest defender. I am still learning to not try to defend myself. I am still learning to not run to another member of the herd in search of advice. I am learning that the only way to escape the grip of the enemy is to cling to the Father. And let me tell you, it is NOT easy, especially when the enemy uses those in your own herd as his tools of destruction. Giving grace to those who hurt you is hard already, but anyone who has been hurt by the church can tell you that it’s even harder to extend grace to those who claim to walk with Jesus.
I’m guilty of this too. We’re all human, whether we’re in church or a nightclub, we all make mistakes and we all hurt people at some point in our lives even if we do so unintentionally. But there is so much grace to be shared and extended. The Lord is teaching me that. He has given me keys to His kingdom realm-- meaning I have access to all of the grace He has for us and He gives us extra grace to give to each other, we just have to be willing to extend it and not keep it all to ourselves. When we do that, it doesn’t mean we won’t still feel hurt or upset or disappointed. It just means we took the first step in healing. All that’s left is to let Him feel our emotions with us so that He can start reconstructing us.
At this point, I’m just freely thinking and writing, but I think that’s really all God wants me to say for now. If you’ve read this far, thanks & know that nothing is fun when kept a secret from God. You are so loved.
Worth the Risk
“What do you mean?...”
“I mean maybe Haiti isn’t your safe haven. Maybe it was never meant to be. I mean maybe you are called to danger.”
“Because I made you dangerous.”
This was a conversation I had with my heavenly Dad right after I was informed about the recent events occurring in Haiti. If you haven’t seen or heard yet, the Haitian government has raised the gas prices to almost 50% which has made the citizens of Haiti very upset for good reasons. Gas for Haitians is everything-- transportation, cooking, and even power. Raising the price of gas means raising the price of EVERYTHING. So of course the people weren’t too happy with this decision. They were so upset and desperate to have their voice heard that they took to the streets, burning tires, putting rocks in the road, blocking the airport, and setting grocery stores on fire. The majority of this chaos was happening in the capital, Port Au Prince, which is about 2 hours from where I am staying. While nothing too scary has happened in Gonaives, it was still a little unnerving watching what was happening not too far from me and wondering if it would make it’s way up here.
When I first heard the news my first thought was, “What am I going to do if things go really bad?” Considering that the airports have been blocked off and I hadn’t really thought about a situation like this in advance, its safe to say it's not something I’ve prepared for. Luckily, things have quieted down and I am still safe, but it made me wonder, “Why now? Why is it the one summer I spend in Haiti is the summer everyone starts setting stuff on fire? Why must this happen three weeks before I head back to the states?” The answer seemed to pop into my mind almost immediately; “Maybe you were made for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) Yeah, that doesn’t seem right to me. I’m a 5’2”, 130 lbs seventeen year old kid from Ringgold, Georgia and this is telling me I was made for this? It seems debatable considering the circumstances, but if He says so, it must be so.
I am reading a book called “The Barbarian Way” by Erwin Raphael McManus that gives insight to what Christianity was intended to look like. For some people, Christianity looks like a prayer before meals and church every sunday. But how does Christianity look biblically? McManus uses Hebrews 11:36-40, “Others were mocked and experienced the most severe beating with whips; they were in chains and imprisoned. Some of these faith champions were brutally killed by stoning, being sawn in two or slaughtered by the sword. These lived in faith as they went about wearing goatskins and sheepskins for clothing. They lost everything they possessed, they endured great afflictions, and they were cruelly mistreated. They wandered the earth living in the desert wilderness, in caves, on barren mountains and in holes in the earth. Truly, the world was not even worthy of them, not realizing who they were. These were the true heroes, commended for their faith, yet they lived in hope without receiving the fullness of what was promised them. But now God has invited us to live in something better than what they had—faith’s fullness! This is so that they could be brought to finished perfection alongside of us.” To say “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will,” is saying that John the Baptist, Paul, Abel, Zechariah, and even Jesus Christ weren’t living according to God’s will.
Now I am in no way saying we are all called to be martyrs, but I am saying we must be prepared if we are. To be a martyr for the gospel is an incredible honor, but we are all the body of Christ, and while one person might be called to be the foot, another might be called to be the arm-- both serve completely different purposes, but both are equally as important to make the body function as a whole. The point is; sometimes we are supposed to be uncomfortable to serve God’s will. But why should we complain? That’s what we signed up for when we gave our lives to Christ. Or at least that’s what we are supposed to do. When we tell Jesus that He can have our lives, that means ALL of our life. That means our love life, our home life, our work life, our comfortability, etc. We are sacrificing something that was never meant to be ours.
Okay, so I know God sent me to Haiti. I know that I am in the center of His will. So why are all these riots happening? It’s simple; The enemy sees me as a threat and hates that I obeyed God, so he is trying to get in my head. The funny thing is that it’s not working very well. I see right through him. One huge thing I’ve gained this summer is a deeper familiarity of the sound of my Father’s voice. And I think I can tell the difference between my Dad and a snake. So (Lord forbid for my parents’ sake) what if I do become martyred for Christ in my three weeks left in Haiti? Would it be worth it? Would the six weeks that I have been here be worth laying down my life for the One who laid down His for mine? Absolutely. Who am I to say the price He paid for me isn’t worth everything I have? There’s nothing more I want in this big silly planet than I want to be completely and fully His. I am laying myself at the altar. There’s nothing of me that I want. I only want Him.
“My true life is the Anointed One, and dying means gaining more of him.” (Philippians 1:21 TPT)
“ I am convinced that any suffering we endure is less than nothing compared to the magnitude of glory that is about to be unveiled within us.” (Romans 8:18 TPT)
Are We Alone?
“Tell me, Kimi… what scares the hell out of you?”
“Never being a wife-- never sharing my ministry with someone.”
“Okay, so what if I called you to singleness for the rest of your life?”
“What if i did?”
“... Not my will, but Yours, Lord.”
“Then how is it so hard for you to keep walking even after I took them away?”
“I don’t know how to walk with a broken heart.”
“Yes you do, you’ve done it many times before.”
“Okay, well then i don’t like walking with a broken heart.”
“You seemed to love being broken hearted when you walked with them.”
“Well, maybe, but who is supposed to walk with me now? Who will hold my hand now?”
“I have two legs & an open hand. Are you ready?”
This is how the conversation went. This is how the new road started. I never knew until coming to Haiti that I was completely terrified of not just loneliness, but aloneness as well. I had always heard people say “being alone and being lonely aren’t the same thing!” but to me, they always seemed to be. I never liked naptime as a kid because I felt alone, I never enjoyed being alone on the weekends, I have always wanted to be in the company of people who love me. When I say ‘always’, I mean there used to never be a moment that I didn’t hate being by myself. Some people call this “FOMO” (“Fear Of Missing Out”), science calls it “Autophobia,” but what is it really? What does it mean if we are afraid of being alone? I wish I had a simple answer, but unfortunately I do not. However, I do have a few nuggets of wisdom that were passed down to me through older and wiser people who have gone before me and some revelations that I received directly from my heavenly father.
Since being in Haiti, I have learned many things just within my first month. One of the things I’ve learned is that I am inevitably stuck with two people for the rest of my life; God & myself. I use the word “stuck” more towards myself, but it’s safe to say that God isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Because I am only promised these two people, I think it would be smart for me to become good friends with them. Is it always easy to have a great relationship with them? Nope. The root of loneliness is insecurity and the root of insecurity is sin. So, to get rid of the feeling of loneliness, I must find the cause which is insecurity, and then I must uproot the source of the insecurity which is sin. For me, I have always longed for the approval of others. I have always wanted to be told that I am good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, etc. If no one around me was telling me these things, how was I supposed to know if I am if I wasn’t relying on my source of life to reassure me? I learned very early on in my life that people will always fail you, whether in a big or small way. I learned that a lot of people, even unintentionally, will walk into your heart, search for things inside you that will benefit them, and then leave with the door wide open. So what do you do with that? How do you handle the aftermath of abandonment from not just one person, but several?
It’s inevitable. If not already, someone will disappoint you and leave you, whether that be a friend you’ve only known for a week at summer camp, or something more tragic and heartbreaking like a divorce. I, however, do not believe there is criteria you must meet when it comes to what “suffering” looks like. I have lost my sister to a car accident and I have gone through a tough breakup. While my sister’s death is a more lasting pain, I still cried many tears during that breakup and still catch myself trying to manage not having another person to share life’s moment with. The definition of “suffering” is “the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.” That means the pain of a breakup in God’s eyes is just as important as the pain of grieving a death. It’s hard for our brains to wrap around that concept, but God’s brain is much more complex than ours.
I wrote in my journal a few weeks ago, “I know only Your love is enough to satisfy me, but I don’t know how to let it.” I am on the journey to satisfaction even as I type this. Here’s one thing I know: unless you are genuinely and intentionally seeking out a one-on-one connection with your Father, you will always be asking “how?”. In John 5, Jesus heals the crippled man. But how exactly did Jesus heal him? John 5:8-9 says “Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up! Pick up your sleeping mat and you will walk!’ Immediately he stood up—he was healed!” That’s it. “Stand up!” He says. He said that IF he had the faith to stand up himself and pick up his sleeping mat, THEN he would be able to walk. Jesus makes it clear here that sometimes, we have to stand up so that we can walk, not sit and wait until we can walk. So how do I let His love be enough to satisfy me? I stand up and walk. I might not do it gracefully, but I am learning how to walk with Him slowly, but surely.
1 Corinthians 7:17 says “And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life.” Even though I am only 17 years old and have a lot of life ahead of me, I struggle with keeping God as the definition of my life. In the past I have put my music, my family, and, yes, a boy as the definition of my life. In the moment, I had no clue just how terribly unhealthy that is to do for whatever or whoever it is you are putting in that place and for yourself as well. It causes more pain, more frustration, and more distance away from your Father. I am learning everyday why God called me here to Haiti for this time of grief and loss and aloneness. I am learning that the climax of my life is not becoming a wife, but being a child of God. I am learning that so many things are sprouting up in places of my heart I never thought could obtain vegetation, and the ironic part is that a lot of my time spent here in Haiti has been spent alone.
I am still being worked on-- stretched and pulled and crushed for His new wine. I still find myself sobbing on the phone with my amazing mother. I still catch myself rolling my eyes at a future that I cannot see that is being prepared by a God that is ever-so perfect at the skill of creating beautiful things. I’m still learning and reminding myself everything you just finished reading. So what if He DOES call me to singleness for the rest of my life? I must remind myself who the first love of my life is; Him. Why has my life mission been finding “the one”? He is The One.
Isaiah 54:5 “For your Maker is your husband -- the Lord Almighty is his name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer-- He is called the God of all the earth.”
“Okay, Lord, I’m ready to heal now. I’m ready to get up and walk.”
“Are you sure? It’s not going to be fun.”
“Well I’m not having too much fun just sitting in this pain.”
‘Operation: Kimi’s intensive heart repair.’
Oh, by the way, have I mentioned that I love you?"