Pay close attention to the teaching that corrects you, and open your heart to every word of instruction.Proverbs 23:12
I can’t remember how many times I’ve gone through the book of Proverbs. This is my 4th or 5th time. Every time I have picked up new things for me to apply in my life. There is wisdom in Proverbs for our lives in every season. That’s the beauty of Proverbs. It’s applicable to every person in every season.
The difference with this time is that I’m writing down my devotional in on my website instead of in a notebook. I could have written this devotional as a teaching platform. I could have kept it impersonal, but that’s not what I was led to do. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the Holy Spirit has me on this journey of being authentic and vulnerable. This devotional is a part of that journey. It’s scary to put my stuff out there. Anyone who follows me on social media knows that I do not share my life like many do. So, using my site to document this round of my personal devotional through Proverbs was not a comfortable place for me.
I have actually found that being vulnerable is scary for those around me as much as it is for me…if not more. I never thought that being vulnerable and exposing who I really am would be uncomfortable for others. It’s awkward and leaves me in a position to be criticized and judged, which has happened. I’ve been told I’m being prideful in sharing my struggles and weaknesses. My identity has been put into question. My struggles and past has been used against me. Trust me, it’s not easy being real, raw, authentic, and vulnerable.
However, I refuse to live in shame. I’ve been studying creation and the “fall” of man for almost a year and the Holy Spirit has been teaching me a lot about the fruit of sin. Shame is big one. It’s what causes us to live in hiding, unable to be our true selves. With shame, we live our lives to impress and/or please others; we live to satisfy others so that they don’t reject us. I lived a life of appearances for many years. Shame is what gives us the perceptions that God is far, when the truth is He is right here/there.
Authenticity and vulnerability have removed shame from my life. Maintaining that freedom, however, has not been easy, without a fight, or without intentionality. There are times I’ve had to really question my motives and my heart. Ask myself who I really am and what I really want outside of other’s opinions, advice, or criticism. I’ve needed to make sure that my actions or desires weren’t being motivated by outside forces, not even my husbands. So, being vulnerable has required I be intentional and self aware.
When I sit down to write these devotionals I have a bit of a routine. I turn on my diffuser and instrumental music, and open up a blank page so I’m ready to just start typing when I’m ready. I then sit back and welcome the Holy Spirit allowing Him to move in and through me. My prayer is always that my heart is settled and in rest so that He can teach me something new in the chapter of Proverbs I have scheduled for the day. I may be writing my devotional, but the reality is that it is being shared in somewhat a public forum and I want it to bring life. I take my writing very seriously and understand it’s implications. I trust and believe that His Words are alive in the scriptures and that even if I have a planned reading, He will speak into my life in a timely fashion. His Words are life and will bring life to any dead area that is within me.
My life is not perfect and I, for sure, am not perfect. Perfectionism is not my goal. My goal is to love and follow Jesus wholeheartedly. That’s my target, my aim. There are times I’ve missed the mark and it’s possible, at times, I will miss the mark in the future. But, my heart desires to reflect my Jesus on this Earth.
It requires relationship with Jesus to reflect Him, but it also requires intentionality. We must be aware, in every way, of ourselves and what’s around us, both in the natural and spiritual realms. That is not something we can do on our own. It requires the Holy Spirit. I need the Holy Spirit. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. I need, want, and desire for the Holy Spirit to be in complete operation in my life at all times. Why? Because I’ve learned that it’s not possible to live the life that Jesus desires for us Divine Wisdom. That comes from the Holy Spirit being permitted full access to our being (body, soul, spirit, heart, and mind) and for us to have ears to hear and eyes to see revelation from the Holy Spirit and apply it, whether we fully understand it or not.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings correction and discipline. I’ve heard the Holy Spirit say “Andrea, check yourself.” It is my desire that the Holy Spirit have the ability to completely search my heart, check it, and reveal to me when my motives and intentions are not in line with my Father’s heart.
Before I type one word in my devotionals because I know that it is being read by others, I allow the Holy Spirit to search my heart and reveal to me the things that need to be transformed in my life. I don’t want my devotionals to be tainted with bitterness, resentment, pain, etc. That’s why there are posts where I talk about areas of my life that need to be worked on. However, I also have posts where God has reminded me of His promises and confirmed certain decisions that have been made. My motive in every devotional is to hear, learn, and apply what God is speaking to me when I read that chapter of Proverbs that day. It’s real, raw, authentic, and vulnerable. It’s from a place of “I want the Holy Spirit to teach, discipline, encourage and lead me.” Nothing more, nothing less.
The intention behind this devotional is for me, personally, to be authentic and vulnerable. I didn’t want to teach or write as if I have all the answers and know what you should think or feel about a certain verse. This devotional is personal to me, but also to demonstrate that you aren’t alone. You have brothers and sisters who passionately love Jesus, just like you, but also are faced with struggles in this life. You aren’t alone. We need one another. Community is vital to our health, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not and I don’t want you to either.
Presenting to people a version of yourself that isn’t real is not fair to you. Bottling up what’s going on inside and living a life of perception is a prison and Jesus wants us all to be free from that. Shame is the culprit and I’m here to out shame. I’m here to reveal to you that living a fake life of appearances is the result of shame and Jesus came to set you free from shame. We don’t need to live in shame anymore.
He wants us to live authentically before Him. He wants us to be real, raw, authentic, and vulnerable with Him. I am no longer ashamed of my struggles because I know they don’t intimate God. But the reality is that when I’m real with Him and I hand my struggles over to Him, they suddenly lose their power – my struggles don’t seem to be struggles anymore. But, that wouldn’t have been possible if I wasn’t vulnerable about my struggles to begin with.
So, I end this long devotional with this:
Push through the shame and ask the Father to look at it all. Ask Him to search your heart and to reveal His love to you. You will find that shame loses it’s grip and hold. The desire to live by appearances fades away and you just want to be who you are, in the presence of Your Father without reservation.
I pray that you come to the understanding that God loves you, just as you are. He wants to overwhelm you with His love and bring all things within you to life. His love and presence lights of up the darkest of places. There is nothing about you that He’s afraid to see. Nothing threatens Him. He just wants you. The real you. Start with Him…the rest with follow.