No More Secrets

Courtesy Microsoft.com

Courtesy Microsoft.com

Recently I stood in front of 1,000 girls and talked about the one thing I’d always promised myself would remain a secret.

This girl… the one who travels and speaks and hangs out with some of the coolest people on the planet for a living…she knows what it’s like to feel alone.

I walked through high school this way; with some of the most caring, loving, selfless family and friends… but somehow I felt alone.

How could I tell my family as I sat in my room that night–watching the moon reflect off the wall–that all I could think about was hanging myself on the blind cord?

How could I tell them that no matter how tight they squeezed I couldn’t feel their arms around me anymore?

How could I tell them that the truth they spoke–that things would get better–was like the reflection on my wall… it was there; I just couldn’t grab onto it?

One of the darkest times of my life, and here I was… about to tell 1,000 strangers about it.

Best. Decision. Ever.

They pressed in on every side, girls who got it. Girls who were all too familiar with the word “alone”. Girls who wanted more than anything to grasp at the light until the shadows fled away.

They each had their own story, just like I had mine. (Medically induced depression from seizure meds was more than any of us knew to look for back in 1998.) But most importantly, it opened my eyes to how very many people around me are hurting… and just can’t find the words.

I don’t know if you’re one of those people tonight. Maybe this story means something to you. If it does, I want you to know you’re more than just one girl in 1,000.

You are here for a reason.

Jesus brought YOU to this place, to these words, to these promises.

And with Him… there are no more secrets. Because with Him, the truth will set you free.

No More Mrs. Nice Guy

There was a time in my life I so desperately wanted to be THAT woman. To have thick callouses and deep tree trunk roots and strong arms that push back and say Don’t Mess with This.

But I’m The Woman with my guard down. Open. Relational. In a sense I love that… in another, I might as well hang a shingle that says Take Advantage.

(Don’t ask me to tell you the story about the time the Craigslist guy drove off with my car and decided not to bring it back. But I guess I just did tell you that story.)

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You’re Not too Broken

Photo by Microsoft

Photo by Microsoft

Anyone else would have felt like half a man, but this guy–the one with no legs–was the one who knew beyond a doubt that he’d been called.
Called to a tribe–remote–godless–dying. Called to bring relief, aid, and a fresh word from a God who loved them enough to send the broken.
They said he couldn’t do it. Time and time again this man came before churches, missions boards, relief organizations. “NO. You would never survive. REJECTED.”
He listened at first.

It’s Going to be Okay

Photo by Microsoft

Photo by Microsoft

“I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost.”

His life was simple, but that day he lost it all. Everything he’d lived for, poured himself into, believed would be… it was instantly gone.

He’d failed.

I can’t help but feel the same way right now.

I want more than anything for this body to carry another child.

I want more than anything for our daughter to run through the yard with the “li’l brudder” she asks for almost every day.

I want more than anything to see her press her little hand into his.

And so I wait. And I ask for a miracle. Just like that man, that day…

“My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my life…”

I’m like him, this man, this Peter, who lost his dream. He tried to follow Jesus, but found in the end he simply could not come to the death.

But there is a Spirit inside of me that this man did not have. Because of this Spirit I am empowered to follow Jesus to the dark places. I am empowered to see His strength. I am empowered to not waiver, because…

I am frail, but the hand that holds me is not.

Whatever the future… He is in it. And no death-rattle can haunt when He is here.

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What are you struggling with today? How can I pray for you? Please comment!

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The BoyBekah Hamrick Martin is a national speaker and the author of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God’s Purity Plan (Zondervan).

26.2

26.2

Photo by Microsoft

I wish I was a runner. They look so awesome cutting me off on the highway, with their “26.2” stickers flashing at me from their back bumpers.

For years I thought 26.2 was a radio station.

Do you know what my car says? It says “Author”.

My mother bought me that sticker. Maybe I should buy her an equivalent one that says “Proud Parent of a Nerd”.

Some kids are born athletic. Pictures show my husband coming out of the womb with biceps from doing pushups on his mom’s uterine wall since approximately gestational day 49 when he first developed hands.

I came out of my mother with a mild case of atrophy and a pair of granny glasses dangling from my oversized nose.

You may realize by now that I’m not athletic. Being a nerd is a poor cop-out for exercise, I know. But some day when you, my runner friend, are old and decrepit and atrophied, maybe you will realize how I feel every day of my life.

Who am I kidding? You will still be flying past me with a “26.2” bumper sticker from last week’s marathon on your car butt.

At least I will be too old and blind to see it.

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10289819_686616381391858_2334978961076964519_n-1Bekah Hamrick Martin is a national speaker and the author of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God’s Purity Plan (Zondervan).

Part II – Why Kids Are Leaving Church

This is the second part of a multi-installment series on Spiritual Abuse in the church. You can read the first part here.

Photo by Microsoft

Photo by Microsoft

At some point we, as youth leaders, became obsessed with wanting the kids to get out there and serve.

Maybe it was the old southern adage that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. Maybe it was because we didn’t want to be like those other youth groups; you know — the ones who are always looking for the bigger, better way to entertain and draw more people in.

When it came down to it, we wanted to show our youth that they could make a difference.

We took it too far.

Every Saturday the kids were singing at the nursing home, or cleaning up a widow’s yard… followed by teaching Sunday school to the three-year-olds, playing instruments in church, leading prayer services, putting on happy faces even when doubts and fears were right beneath the surface…

Doubts and fears we would have recognized, had we slowed down to register the looks on their weary faces.

In the process we failed to remember that even Jesus didn’t have a formal ministry until he was thirty.

Complaints were met with reminders of how blessed we were to be in America, in this time, in this place. Meanwhile, the art of sitting still, learning, pouring into these kids and their hearts and their questions was drowned out by the busyness. 

They were exhausted. (So were we.) They’d never had a chance to fill up on grace before being asked to pour it into others.

In moderation, I think the service theory would have worked.

But people aren’t theories. They are people. Who are developing, growing, feeling.Because of our focus on the outside appearances, here are the three outcomes I saw again and again in my ten years of youth ministry:1 – Rebellion

They walked away. The expectations were too much. In the words of Josh McDowell, “Rules without relationship = rebellion”. I would add to that, however. If the focus is on the rules instead of the heart, even if you have a relationship, you’re going to have rebellion.

2 – Hiding

Just what it sounds like; these kids went underground. Their anger turned inward. They self-harmed and self-medicated in ways they thought we would never understand.

3- Buck up and Do It

These were outwardly the star students. They had what it took to make it to every church meeting, volunteer at every event, stand out in the crowd. They met every challenge and asked for more.

Consequently, many of them burned out at an early age. I witnessed teens who were literally physically sick from giving so much. They had served to the point of believing that to sit back and receive was some sort of shortcoming.

The concept of pressuring our teens to serve (out of balance) is a fill-in-the blank scenario. Pressuring people doesn’t just apply to serving–any time we focus more on outside appearances or actions, we miss an opportunity to love someone where they are and let Jesus transform them.

I wish I would have realized… at some point, friends, we have to start loving people where they are–not where we want them to be.

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Your turn: what are some other forms of spiritual abuse or pressure? Please share in the comments.
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10289819_686616381391858_2334978961076964519_n-1Bekah Hamrick Martin is a national speaker and the author of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God’s Purity Plan (Zondervan).
Please stay tuned for the third and final part of the series, how to reverse spiritual abuse.