Stripping Down to Nothing

By JMathis

Forget who you want to be.” –AbbyA

I must admit that I am having great difficulty with internalizing these words.

From as far back as I can remember, I have been fueled by crazy, maddening ambitions for myself. Ambitions about career, fame and ministry have always been at the forefront of my mind, and unfortunately, my brain just won’t allow me to forget who I want to be.

I suppose I could euphemistically spin and characterize myself in a positive light–that God has blessed me to be a driven and forward-thinking individual. Indeed He has, but as far as I can tell, this would still be a disingenuous lie. After all, my desires for the future often have very little to do with God and His plans.

In fact, the hard questions that I have been asking lately involve whether the desires of my heart are even truly aligned with the will of God and His very best for my life. How do I really know that I am not using my God-given talents just to push another one of my personal agendas?

While I love the Lord deeply, the more I engage in self-analysis, the more I realize that most of my pursuits have everything to do with my quest for personal greatness—even those very pursuits that I am supposedly doing in God’s name—pursuits such as church-building, helping the homeless, writing this blog.

This desire for personal greatness, this deep-seated need to be recognized and applauded, stem from my sins addressed in I John 2:16: For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

This verse makes me remorseful and sad. Sad that I have consistently taken credit for God’s work in me. Sad that I have attributed to myself all of the successes, gifts and abilities that He has given and revealed to me over the years. Sad that I haven’t truly given back to my Creator.

Sad that there is still so much left of me.

In this 31-Day Mind-Body-Spirit Challenge, I am looking to strip away the things that are not of my Father. To strip away my desire for the accolades and successes of this world. To strip away my need for material things and worldly adventures. To strip away my compulsion to be better, to be more, to be GREAT.

To strip myself of me.

How do I go about doing that in just 31 days? This very pride that took a lifetime to build? How do you just strip all that away in just one month?

As in strip-poker, where you have to begin somewhere (a toe-ring, a hair clip, a watch), here is a start. A start towards a real future. Will you start this journey with me?

1)      Practice repentance: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10

2)      Practice contentment: “…be content with what you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

3)      Practice patience: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

4)      Practice humility: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Practice, practice, practice.

Practice repentance, contentment, patience and humility. Over and over until you are stripped.

Strip away everything that pertains to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Make it a daily exercise to strip yourself of you.

Practice forgetting who you want to be.

It is then you will find Him, so that you can finally hear what He wants you to be.

A Not So Virtuous You . . .


By AbbyA

Mommies, I have some things to say about our past.  For those of us who were not very virtuous in our younger days.  For those of us who have regrets.  For those of us who, from time to time, remember a late night.  A flashback.  A short film of an earlier you.    A rerun of sleeping with a married man.  A dark memory when you had an out but didn’t take it.  An episode of going home with a random acquaintance when you should have gone home with the friend you came with.  A play back of you toying with lust.  They were momentary connections.  Where you passed out your inner beauty – – for free.  You took a gamble on your purity.  It is a rerun of someone that is not you today.

Mommies, it’s easy to black out the past with sacrificial motherhood.  It’s easy to be who you are now as long as you don’t think too much about her.  It’s easier to work really hard at Proverbs 31 rather than face the past.  It’s easier to strive to redeem yourself rather than to look into your younger face.  Looking back is painful.  In light of who you are now, the replay stings.  It is easier to be busy about your motherhood.  Easier to be busy about pouring yourself into what is worthy.  Easier than the pain.

Mommies, redeeming yourself is futile.  Forgetting the younger, less wise, woman is not humanly possible.    She’ll pierce you in a quiet moment.  She’ll take her spot as a little dark mole on your pink, prospering heart . . . despite all that you are now.   She’ll hold you back from your gifts.  There will be something about you that senses you are still less than the more you have grown to be.  There will be something about your growth, your flowering.  Just when the bloom is about to reach its most beautiful point.  The bloom will be one ray of sunshine short of fullness.  It’s her.  You can’t black her out.

Let God take her  into His Hands.  Repent.  You may have been saved for years.  You may have been saved when you still were behaving like her.  Repent now.  Give her up.  She’s so eighties or nineties, or just plainly, yesterday.   The dark spot on your heart.  God wants to fill it with His life and His love.  He died for that mark on your heart.

When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.  I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.”  And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”  Psalm 32:3-5.

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. . . You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And my people shall never be put to shame.  Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel; I am the Lord your God  And there is no other.  Joel 2:25-27.

And it shall come to pass afterword That I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.  And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.  And I will show wonders in the heavens and the earth.  Joel 2:28-30.

Mommies, can you see what your great God wants to do in your heart?  He wants to walk with you through old places.  He wants to remove your pain.  Fastforward the past so that He can perfect your bloom.  It is the aftermath of your repentance that His great reward awaits.  He died for that very mark on your heart.  There was a price for your redemption.  He paid it while you were still her.  You only have to trade her in for you.  And in His great wisdom, mommies, your new love story will be told.