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31Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 4

My stomach has been hurting since this morning. It’s the kind of hurt that burns constantly and gnaws at my peace.
This is the same kind of stomach ache that I started to have constantly when I was working at the Lycée, when my doctor told me that she could hear the stomach acid traveling upwards instead of staying where it’s supposed to and when she prescribed me a high dose of Nexium. It’s the same pain that would eventually burn through the benefits of that medication and force me to begin counseling because it signaled that my anxiety was out of control.

Through counseling, I discovered that my stomach burning was my body’s way of begging for my attention and my care. It was a safeguard that God had provided to wave the red flag of warning that I have reached my limit, can go no further, need to adjust my plans and expectations and be gentler with myself.
But, I have a very hard time being gentle with myself. In fact, I almost always feel angry when my stomach hurts this way. I feel frustrated that I have limitations, embarrassed that I’m a professional counselor who knows what to do and I still struggle to manage my anxiety well, scared that I’m face to face with one of my imperfections and tired of this whole process of growing and all of the failure that is involved.

Usually, I want to turn my anger inwards and punish myself for not meeting my impossible expectations. I want to run out and buy a huge coffee, drink it down and feel the burn get worse because I’m so mad that it’s there at all. I lecture myself internally about how I really need to respect my own boundaries and stop making such poor choices and how it’s my own fault that I feel the way I do. I think that I deserve to feel that burn and so I just have to deal with the pain.
This is when I really need to lean into God because I have such a hard time with my weaknesses. For a long time, I split my bad parts away from my good parts and hid them away. I thought that if I couldn’t see them, then they would go away. Instead, they turned into a fiery burn in my stomach. I would also run away from God instead of towards Him anytime there was a problem with one of my bad parts. I was afraid that if He had to handle my bad parts, then He definitely wouldn’t want me anymore.

It’s only been since I started running to God when my stomach burns and allowing Him to comfort my heart when it hurts, that I have felt safe enough and brave enough to start looking for those so-called bad parts and to invite them back into fellowship. He brings gentleness and love to these fragile and hurt parts of me and shows me the way to take good care of them. God always reassures me that it’s OK when I mess up because Jesus already paid all my debts. The blood Jesus shed when He died on the cross is all the payment that God requires to free me from my wrongs and to heal my bad parts. He reminds me that He accepts every part of me, that He wants to be the lifter of my head and that He longs to be gracious to me, especially when I don’t want to be gracious to myself.
God is teaching me how to rejoice when my stomach hurts because it means that I’m still imperfect and deeply in need of His love, grace and healing. He is showing me how to lean into Him when I hurt and to ask Him to comfort my heart, heal my body, bring peace to my mind and life to my spirit.

Still counting gifts:

·         #469: A burning stomach

·         #470: The way that God kept reaching out to me all this morning when I was stewing in my anger

·         #471: How good it feels to receive His love and grace for my pain and anger

·         #472: Imperfections that keep me dependent on God

·         #473: I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. Philippians 3:9

·         #474: How God gave me pockets in my schedule today because He knew that I would need time and space

·         #475: Being close to the Rock River House of Prayer so that I can escape there almost anytime that life starts to be too much and I really, really need to meet with God

·         #476: Time to be quiet, to think, to pray, to read, to write and just to be me

·         #477: God’s constant affirmations of His perfect love for me

·         #478: Eager anticipation of movie night with dear Chicago friends tonight

·         #479: Courage to keep sharing all these secret thoughts and feelings with you


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