A Floral Dawn

The blooms of the earth remind us of the life that comes from hardship, the freedom that comes when we finally break through the dark.

Nothing short of miraculous, your night is sure to end. You will break into a dawn filled with golden light, unfamiliar but pure and true.

The sun surely rises, behind cloud or brilliantly in front of it, the sun surely rises on the blooms of adversity, the blooms of trial and hardship.

It breathes new life and warmth into the petals of a bud bursting to life and fullness.

See, oh, sweet soul, your dawn is coming.

Jessica Madison

A Vulnerable Start

Have you ever noticed that there is this overwhelming push as of late to be vulnerable on social media? That sharing your flaws with the world is open and acceptable, highly encouraged and praised. I’m in favor of authenticity, because I believe that authenticity breeds change, and that change breeds movements. However, there is something sinister that I’ve found in this recent openness the world has sought.

It creeps in quietly, telling us how great it is that we are being vulnerable. It tells us that we are so strong for sharing. It tells us all about US. I love being told that I’ve done something good, because–in full honesty and knowledge of my point in this post–I crave approval. Identifying this struggle in my life became increasingly difficult because of that tendency.

It feels good, doesn’t it? When someone praises us, it is hard not to take it personally and be happy that someone noticed how hard it might’ve been for us to share a piece of our soul. Vulnerability hurts, and that pain builds character and increases the reach of our story to people who might have otherwise not known that they could relate to us.

The problem is, the world is focusing on the strength of the wrong character. It focuses in on you, your heart, your strength, your motive, and it tells you that you can bring yourself freedom. This is simply not true, friends. Approval from the world does not breed any sort of freedom or change, in fact it breeds slavery.

Have you not noticed the cycle of post after post, like after like, your soul dragging along looking for that same feeling of acceptance by those who you are trying to identify with?

What I have learned in my own wrestling with this demon of approval is that my vulnerability must come from within a right understanding of my identity. When I know that no matter what I share, I am loved by God in an unimaginable way, I can rest easy. Perfection through vulnerability (or making myself seem perfect by sharing my brokenness, no matter how counter-intuitive that seems) is not the way to freedom. However, vulnerability through the strength God has given me to share my story is freedom. That ‘breath of fresh air’ feeling we are craving comes when God chips away at the heart of stone we have built up as we become calloused against the words of the world. The fear we feel as we share will diminish, because we understand the weight of the worth God has given us through Jesus’ sacrifice and through the gift of Spirit inside of us.

Bruises from being open with someone are undoubtedly seared into your mind making you question why you would ever be open with someone. The only piece of hope I can offer you is that the colors of the bruises change, and that they fade. You may remember that pain for the rest of your life, but the feeling of that pain cannot govern your life. God will guide you to do hard things. He will ask of you what seems to be the impossible. This is the cost of walking with Him.

Friends, I can’t pretend to be anywhere near where I want to be on this journey towards a purer vulnerability with you, and with the world. What I can tell you is that I will happily walk alongside you in your own journey towards the freedom God is offering us here in this wilderness space, to lead us out and to lead us home.

From within the thick of it,

Jess

Do not expect perfection, for you will never find it. The soul is quickly broken, quickly turned as cold as stone. Fears consume the heart and take over the body to control its every movement, every moment that you wish it didn’t own. We are only what we want you to see. The bruises we hide make up more of our strength than you’d know. Don’t let the outside fool you; we’re all battered deep within. Broken, but healing, for Jesus died to take our sin. Every day we live and learn how to keep up this fighting life. Fighting demons, fighting things that hold on so tight. But we are free and free we will be. He is the victory in all the pain, all the joy, and all the times we fail over and over again. — Jessica Madison