Unscheduled breakouts of tears, the seesawing emotional clues that let me know my life belongs to someone other than myself, occupy my soul. For years I have attempted to quiet the powerful voice that pulls me toward a peculiar place and threatens my interpretation not only of God but also of myself. In His current position in my life, there is no real threat, because my presence with God is minimal and very much filtered. This is mostly due to my lack of trust and understanding of His love and grace toward me. Nonetheless, the brawl within intensifies into an overpowering wrath. The clash could be ascribed to my resistance to halting the erroneous contributions I continue making into this counterfeit, selfish, unfocused life. The power struggle is so incredibly real that the fight obstructs me from striding toward the great future that is only available through Christ. The pressure entangling my emotions consumes my thoughts, so the only question I am fixated on at the moment is this: could it really be possible that I, Lisa Therez Storr, am dangerously designed by God himself?
Having to face the solicited response is difficult. After all, in the balance, it’s awkward to think of oneself as being dangerously designed. But the truth remains that I am dangerously designed by the hands of God, even though, at times, it is difficult for me to accept. However, once I embraced this revelation, my new life began to take shape, and growth toward purpose emerged. It wasn’t easy, because more often than I care to admit I questioned whether God could truly love someone like me. Keep in mind I am fully aware of my untold story. I have lived long enough to experience some great highlights, some tedious low points, and those routine, mundane moments that are impossible to forget. Yet I wasn’t prepared to openly share all the unattractive details of my life with God at this time. It’s comical how I was acting—as if God were clueless about my past.
Even more laughable was the fact that, despite my conflicting actions, I still wanted to continue in the chase. The more I questioned God’s love for me, the more He allowed understanding to flow throughout the depths of my heart until I fully grasped the fact that His love toward me will never waver.
Despite my struggles, I found out that God truly does love me unconditionally. It was particularly noticeable during those early life-development stages when I was not walking in His will for my life. I discovered God does not base His love for me on my performance, my being perfect, my appearance, or all the mistakes I have made. He knows my beginning, my in-between, and my ending, so nothing I have done or will do comes as a surprise to Him.
Thank God for His mercy and faithfulness toward me. This certainty of His love toward me is the foundation of my relationship with Him today. As I scrutinized my life in my late thirties, I realized that I had never fully made God my number one priority or lived up to my responsibility in our partnership. Some would say I was merely a limited partner; I was only partially invested. I believed that going to church, paying my tithes, attending Sunday school, and knowing the politically correct Christian lingo meant I was doing my part in the arrangement. Boy, was I way off base! I allowed doubt and insecurities to govern my belief system. I never completely committed to God or to His promises, because I really didn’t believe it was possible for me - especially not with my background. However, this was just an attempt to justify my unbelief. I lacked confidence in His abilities for me, even though I had no problem believing it was possible for others. I was a hypocrite.
I excluded myself from being fully devoted to God because there was an absence of intimacy in our relationship. I was experimenting with God, not experiencing God. How do I know this? Gazing through the rearview mirror of my life, many of my actions and responses were calculated to dodge hurt, rejection, humiliation, neglect, isolation, and failure.[DR2] More importantly, with my limited, inadequate concept of God, I was constantly forfeiting opportunities to experience the giving and receiving of authentic love in most of my relationships due to my envisioning the worst outcome. I fell short in my ability to allow the authentic Lisa to be visible—even to myself. That is, until one day, when I was in my mid to late thirties, and everything changed as I stood in my laundry room.
I remember the incident as clearly as if it were yesterday. I can still see myself standing in this small, dry, isolated space crying uncontrollably, with tears rolling down my face. I was unable to put the pain I was feeling into words. I didn’t just cry; I wept until every ounce of the agony that was contaminating my soul could be overheard. The only escape or discharge from my frantic sobbing was my deep wailing out to God. I begged Him profusely to release the intense pressures that had unexpectedly found their way into my life, infecting and polluting my very existence. I needed - and was determined - for God to show me how to live the Jeremiah 29:11 life that I had heard believers describe in exquisite words. But never in my own life had I consistently experienced any portion of this magnificent, splendid life.
During this time, I was not in a healthy, stable, or balanced place in my journey. I was bleeding internally. As judgment sneaked in, I had to admit that in previously unfavorable times I was emotionally driven to seek God as if He were my very own sugar daddy. I had persuaded myself that I could manipulate God with my erratic, unpredictable, dramatic responses with such passion that the academy award would go to me, Lisa Storr. I thought my actions would motivate God to immediately deploy perfect solutions on my behalf to fight for my cause. Please don’t be mistaken. I am extremely aware of all my phony prayer requests whereby I literally tried to bargain with God about my petty, undisciplined, self-seeking desires. My memories of those actions have not been erased; instead, I see them now as impressionable, teachable lessons that drew me closer to God, so I could be purified, and our relationship could be restored.
However, on this ordinary Sunday morning, that proved not to be the case as I tried to compel God to deal with my problems. I wasn’t looking for a quick fix; I wanted a real cure for my condition. I’m not sure how or when it happened, but some extraordinary insight of love purged my soul and made that moment distinctly different from all the others. This time, my outburst wasn’t because I was seeking a man or tangible blessings like money, a new house, or an expensive car. Quite the opposite. I required something much more vital from God, and it could not be seen by the naked eye.
I needed more than a touch. I needed to be able to rest in His presence as I submerged in His anointing. My heart, the navigation system of my life, was shattered, crushed, and defective. It was in desperate need of a complete overhaul by the hand of the Master, if I were to have any chance of living to see another day. I not only needed God’s help, but His help was mandatory for my survival. I was afraid, I was alone, and I was desperate. My children, the emotional shopping sprees, the tropical vacations, food, and even my high-powered career were no solace for the grief that was consuming me. No; I was discovering this process I was engaging in was dispatched on purpose. There was no exit clause that would allow me to remove myself from the process and remain in His will. The pressure was designed to provoke me to see and accept that I was indeed the chosen candidate to accomplish this exclusive plan orchestrated by God. His training methods are brutal, but they are meant to improve my skills and qualifications to produce great results for His kingdom. It is also worth noting that they are the only permissible instructions I could undergo to claim His blessings and certify that I am indeed the trusted recipient of such a great promise.
This process established God as my only true source and revealed that everything else was simply a resource. This series of events was being used to clarify the areas of concern that needed to be addressed if I was going to outlive this season of my life and secure God’s plan for my future. I couldn’t turn away now. I had come too far in the preparation process to settle for merely being acquainted with destiny.
The on-the-job training challenged me to see if I would implement the knowledge I acquired from the Word into my daily lifestyle. There is a huge difference between comprehending God’s Word and applying God’s Word to your own personal life. I did the research and found out the positive implications of having a local church in my life. This study forced me to try to discover why it is imperative to fellowship with other believers, regardless of previous negative church experiences. It also provided me with an incredible amount of wisdom to equip me to distinguish the correct path that would guide me toward purpose. While all this was going on, I was given an unanticipated amount of courage that was essential for me to complete my tasks.
It was incredible how I fell so madly in love with God during this period of my life, which had appeared so bleak and hopeless. The pain my broken heart had suffered did not equate to the love produced by God during the renovation of my heart.
It is indescribable how my heart was restored, refreshed, and revived after this process. I was alive again[DR3] . I didn’t want to pretend that I didn’t care when people hurt me, or that things didn’t bother me when I felt like I was doing the work and no results could be seen. I wanted to be open, honest and vulnerable. I was finally in a position to receive completely from God and I was not about to waste time on nonsense. My decisions and my actions were now in sync. I was one hundred percent invested in my relationship with God. This was the pivotal moment that transformed me; I let go of my will and the ill will I felt towards all the people who had treated me unjustly. Instead of harping on the past, I used my energy to start speaking words of power to my future. These words of power – “I am nothing without Him, and with Him all things are possible”, greatly influenced my transition by silencing all the negativity competing for my attention. As my faith was maturing, my vision became clearer, and I saw the enormity of God. My dependency on worldly artifacts took a direct hit as I shifted my dependency to God. As Christ kept calling me, the Hebrews 12:6-11 Amplified Bible (AMP) helped to change my perception of myself. As I read the words “for the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves, and He punishes every son whom He receives and welcomes [to His heart]”, I found rest and insight with my previous struggles with God. The words uncovered that even though I see myself as unworthy, God values me. I started seeking out scriptures that supported how God sees me to help improve my self-image. I had on-going, positive self-talks because I understood the power of the words I say about myself. Every day I would recite words that increased my faith, renewed my mindset and expanded my vision. In my bathroom mirror, I would look at myself and declare what God says about me no matter how I may have been feeling on any given day. Scriptures such as “I am the head and not the tail”, “I am above and not beneath”, “I am a lender and not a borrower”, “I am of a royal priesthood and I am fearfully and wonderfully made” were the stimulation I needed to stay grounded as I continued pursuing God by faith. I have learned (and I am still learning) how not to be easily offended, because I am now aware that I am not the one personally under attack. Therefore, I am making the necessary adjustments so that I do not take it personally. I recognize that the offenses from others often have nothing to do with me, Lisa the person. The wrongdoing is against the sovereign God whose light shines through me. In those human moments when life happens - and it most certainly will - none of us are exempt. I must purpose in my heart to avoid being drawn to do what is familiar, comfortable and ineffective. I am learning how not to second-guess purpose or my value as I forge ahead, trusting that the plans for my life will work out for my good. I understand that I must be diligent at residing in a state of forgiveness and in total awareness of who I am and who I represent. It’s an ongoing battle risking the God in me to a world that glamorizes people and things of little or no substance. It is between this rock and hard place that my best praises have erupted. In this place, I have learned that God hid me until I was mature enough to carry out His vision. He was determined not to be guilty of giving the world too many opportunities to be captivated by the imitation me. Once I could be trusted, His endorsement was all that I would ever need to thrive. This was the ammunition I needed to reinforce my responsibility and authority over this life that I once took for granted.
Armed with this new-found strength and truth, I qualified for my next assignment. Fear and failure no longer controlled my thoughts or actions. The influence of the safeguarded, defensive, chaotic heart I once idolized was diminished. No longer aspiring to abuse the gift of life that God loaned to me, I made a conscious vow to love myself completely and honestly. I became secure in my source of strength, the Holy Spirit. God was equipping me with His wisdom to handle whatever came my way. This all-encompassing godly mental power is a weapon I never want to live without. It directs my heart to freely give God’s love to all within my spheres of influence. This technique thrust me into a position where purpose was achievable. For the first time in a very long time, I have that peace that everyone talks about which passes all understanding. I could sense that advancement was on the horizon. What was being concealed, the area of my life that would be most affected, I knew would require a great sacrifice. When you are in the right position and your heart is pure, it doesn’t take God long to start unfolding the plot.
To say I didn’t see it coming in this form is an understatement. I was lying in bed shortly after having breast surgery when God revealed the highlights of His plan to me. I was abruptly awakened from the effects of the medications I had taken prior to leaving the hospital. I am sure the four individuals sitting in my bedroom at the time assumed that my tears were from the severe pain that was consuming my body, but this was far from the truth. I was sobbing intensely because in that moment there was no doubt in my mind how much God truly loves me, with a love so deep that I know without a shadow of a doubt I do not deserve it. Yet He continuously offers it to me at no charge. His capacity to love without holding back is unbelievable. Don’t let me get off track, though, because it doesn’t take much, especially when I think about how His love has changed me. I can break out into a praise dance and forget everything.
As I surveyed the room, I noted that not everyone there was biologically related to me. Yet on that Monday morning they all laid aside every one of their own personal lives to support and take care of me. It was an incredibly overwhelming feeling to be amid such compassion. There are no words to express the confusion I felt. Gasping for air as I relived this memory, the tears began to roll. God looked past my massive mistakes and reached down from Heaven to touch the hearts of so many people just to let me know how much He cares for and values me. At first it was difficult for me to accept God’s ability to love me to this magnitude when there were times in life when I didn’t even acknowledge Him publicly for fear of being treated as an outcast. Yet all that was visible in this moment was the residue of God’s mercy in refusing to inflict the punishment I knew I deserved for the way I regarded him. Somehow, my physical pain no longer mattered because my spirit was demanding my attention - but not without a fight.
There is a constant tug of war against pride trying to control my motives. Independence ha[WN4] s its drawbacks. This superiority complex attempts to deceive me into believing that asking for help undermines my independence and makes me appear weak. This argument is quite convincing because, for years I struggled with asking for assistance, even from those closest to me. Perhaps it was due to my intense reluctance to show vulnerability and humility or to be viewed as a burden. I had a difficult time accepting the assistance offered, so I constantly repeated familiar behavior habits. Countless times I made excuses as to why it would be impossible for someone to provide me with support. I thought about the other person’s work schedule and their family responsibilities until I talked myself right out of asking for their assistance. The sad part was that the mental anguish I put myself through was simply a deflection to avoid being rejected. I’m not sure if the inability to take care of myself physically inspired the sequence of events that projected a light on my deficiency. However, for a person who has always been extremely self-sufficient, this reality scared me. Whatever the case, it all proved far too strenuous for me to handle.
What I didn’t understand at the time was that God was birthing something great and new within me. On that day I conceived a little company known as Love You Real Hard Inc., and I had no idea how to strategically cultivate that assignment. However, God continuously uses Love You Real Hard a/k/a LURH as a platform for me to extend unconditional love to those who feel they are undeserving, just like I once did. It is more apparent to me now that my life thus far has been one gigantic lesson to prepare me to align me with that destiny, if I chose that path. The process, far from ideal, gave me the confidence and courage I needed to let purpose have its way. My conscious decision to bring my efforts in line with God’s will did not offer immediate rewards. At times, my heart grew heavy and the days seemed extremely long, especially in an age in which instant gratification is prevalent. It took some time for God to work out the kinks in me. Being in a place of vulnerability, as depression is yearning for your attention, took determination for me to defeat. No one ever thinks about the high cost associated with accomplishing destiny and reaching purpose. We are naive to the level of trust that is the prerequisite for this type of service unto the Lord. To attain this kind of status, I underwent extended periods of suffering and isolation that required me to demonstrate an attitude of joy throughout the injustice. While under fire, as my mustard sized seed of faith to move mountains was being challenged, I had to remind myself that a good man’s steps are ordered by the Lord.
As I unraveled, pride started losing the control it once had over my life. I discovered there is an extremely thin line between pride and being prideful. To prevent falling prey to the effects of pride in the future, I chose to replace it with being thankful and grateful in all things. These conditions sound feasible, until the variables of real life do not support the direction God is taking you. I had to be careful not to become obsessed with the “lights, camera, action” without concentrating on what happens behind the scenes before the curtain is raised. I had to be willing to abort what worked for me in the past -familiarity and comfortability - for my relationship with God to flourish. Being comfortable and accepting the familiar were natural responses for me. Normalcy and routine required little or no faith and added very little change to my life. Plus, those efforts were counterproductive. I had to fully surrender and let humility freely flow as pride was released from its reign, in order for my relationship with God to blossom. At the end of the renovation process, God is in His rightful position in my life. This act sealed the deal. He occupies the highest place of honor, where He is my EVERYTHING!
Now when I wake up I am so thankful, because this one detectable act of allowing His breath to flow through my body is truly a gift of significance. It is a constant reminder of His great love, compassion and faithfulness, that can be seen in the authentic Lisa. As I open my eyes every day, gratefulness overtakes my soul as God confirms there is purpose for Lisa in this day. Through the process, I have been given the ability to hear His voice ever so clearly. By actively listening, my awareness to the needs of others has increased. Those are the opportunities in which the fruit of His Spirit must be visible. My life must reflect one of noble character, exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to continue this journey. His truth is evident and produces such profound clarity in my life. Even when life attempts to discredit my actions, I rely on His faithfulness and His assurance of my value. I am ever so grateful that He has allowed me to live long enough to see Him supply my needs according to His riches and glory. As I recap the times He has been my provider, my healer, my way maker, the one that sticks closer to me than a brother, and my keeper, all the chaos that once tried to disqualify me is somehow overshadowed. I am indebted to Him for continuing the chase until my original worth was restored. I now have the confidence that in my advancement to the next level of learning how to love the authentic Lisa, I will win. It is a journey during which, I am sure, I will discover how to love God in ways that will result in my receiving His presence continually. Keep seeking that friend request you weren’t expecting, hit ‘confirm’ and buckle up for the greatest ride of your life. Love you real hard!
[DR1]Start of sample edit.
[DR2]This was a bit unclear. Okay after editing?
[DR3]End of sample edit.
[WN4]If you say it has pros and cons you don’t need to also say drawbacks (which ARE cons).