{what do you have to prove?}

a week ago my friend Allie said, “remember that blog you wrote on words..?”
it took me a minute.
then a few days later it came up on my Facebook memory thing.
so I clicked over and read.
I first wrote this in 2012!
but the same lesson is still being learned
and the truths just as needed.

grateful for a God that never gives up on me!

_MG_9967 _MG_9976

whoever said,

“sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

obviously must have lived life as a monk. a silent one. surrounded by other silent monks.
because if you live. if you participate in community. engage in relationship..
step foot outside your door –
you’re going to, at some time or another, be hurt by words.

words that cut deeper than any stick. hit harder than any stone.

words that wound, and leave scars far longer than physical ones.
scars that scab. but never fully disappear.

funny, how the smallest bump against them can instantly reopen.
and though perhaps the sting not as potent now, still..
you feel your eyes wince, your heart quicken.

and always the whispering doubt, “maybe.. maybe, after all, they were right?”

do you notice how we remember the negative words spoken to us
far more than the positive?

I know, without question, more good and kind words have been spoken to me in my life –
ask me some, and I might be able to paraphrase.
but the mean, unkind words? I can probably quote verbatim.

they stick to you like a spider’s web.
that sense of not always knowing exactly where they are, but feeling them cling.
so you swat, and tug, and pull, because you just.want.them.off!!!

some words stick longer than others. are harder to peel away.

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I know forgiveness is the antidote.

but I’m not going to pretend I always even know what forgiveness is.
I mean, truly is.

I’ve heard it said, it’s a choice. thing is, I don’t always choose it. or want to.

when Scripture says we’re to “do good” to those who’ve hurt us.
what is that? bake a plate of cookies, compliment their hair?
Or is doing good just not doing the bad we might want to?

like, pull up their prized petunias in the middle of the night.
or, the more difficult one that’s way more of a temptation..
slam and hurt them the way they have me.

sometimes the whole “doing good to your enemies” thing can seem so phony to me.
maybe because I’ve been on the receiving end of that at times..
that sense where someone really can’t stand you,
but they’re just going to love you to Jesus anyway!

please. keep your good and just pull my prized petunias.

but for me, I feel before I can even get to “doing good” from a genuine heart,
I first have to grasp what real forgiveness looks like – what it honestly is.
I think I do. but I don’t want it to be just what I was taught. how I was raised.
what I know the right answer is.
I don’t want a life filled with the right answers –
I want a heart that BELIEVES those answers!

that I have been forgiven much, and therefore, need to give it freely.
but pride clouds my vision of self.  

and though forgiven much, yes.
undeserving, yes.
there’s that part inside that still wants to stand up and declare
the other person less deserving.

and having lived in the pit of bitterness, why ever go there again?
the climb out way more difficult than sermons and books make it sound.
but. there’s that part that “wants” to be there. to not want out.
to not let the other person off so easily.
that somehow by climbing out of that pit, the other person wins.

silly thought that by holding on to our anger we can punish someone!!
truth is. they often have no idea.
and we only hurt ourselves more.

they don’t “win.” satan does.

he’s the true destroyer and he’ll do anything he can to do just that to our lives.
I think through the words of others is one of his favorite tactics! 

I’m sure he’d love to see us persecuted more by the world –
but he knows he doesn’t even have to step foot outside most christian circles.
forget persecution from without.
we’re doing a fine job all by ourselves of destroying one another from within! 

I’m always amazed at the number of people I’ve encountered that want
nothing to do with God.. and more often than not, because of something hurtful
that happened to them by another christian.

sad to think that we as christians are so often a TOOL in the hands of the enemy.

and I can just imagine his menacing grin..
how very easy we as christians have made his job of stealing our focus.


I don’t want him to win.

that motivates me out of the pit.
that motivates me to genuine forgiveness.

I don’t want him to win in my heart. in my family. 

this past week as I battled some old wounds,
I saw how slippery the ground around the pits of our life can be.
the lies that somehow the pit is “safer.”
the anger that wells.
the phantom conversations with the critics in our minds..

maybe only one or two, but with them, creating a mass of faces echoing,
“and I’m not the only one that feels this way. there are others.”
and the “others” of that accusation haunt you like shadows in the night.
never quite sure where or who.
but once those words spoken.. yes, they stick to you hard.

I don’t know about anyone else reading this..
but for me, with hurt has often come the need to prove myself.

to prove the critics wrong.
to show that person who thought they were so right about me, they’re not.

but. that’s a heavy way to live. with something to prove.

I can remember times in my life of even feeling I had to prove how
spiritual I was by how loving I could be..
acting as if I was forgiving.

anyone else get that with me?

of “doing good” as I was saying above, but with the motive of “proving myself.”

I guess bottom line, I’m done proving. {or, so want to be}

the irony is that we can spend so much of our lives striving for that person
or particular group’s approval when, if they’ve already judged us, cut us off,
determined we’re not worthy of grace..
all the proving we could do won’t change that!

it all leaves me exhausted.
feeling I must prove myself to those who choose to believe the worst of me.
and I’m tired of living exhausted.

Shayne said to me yesterday, you need to live for {invest, pour yourself into}
those who are going to cry at your funeral.
that narrows the field quite a bit. 

I was recently on my old blog, hutch5, and saw what my last entry said..

“I don’t live here anymore. I live here – grace.to.be.”

and I stared at those words for several seconds thinking. yes, exactly.

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That’s where I want to live. to really live.
that grace to be right where I am..

in all my mess and figuring things out, and wanting to get it right,
but not always doing so.

recognizing where I’m at is okay. because I’m not staying here.
this is a process. every step necessary to proceed to the next –
you cannot manufacture the heart of genuine forgiveness and love.
God builds it.

I truly believe that. over time. a long time. a lifetime really.
of coming back to Him again and again and again..

and there with our scabs peeled and bleeding, and tears streaming,
and maybe confusion and questions –

He, every time, does what He always does –
tenderly soothes and draws us in closer.

is it the pain. the reminders of the pain that are
part of the process of Him drawing us?
I think so. though I don’t like it.  but I see why.

I see that He loves me just the way I am.
but too much to let me stay that way.
and so, He brings change.

He allows circumstances that bring my focus back to Him.
that reveal my true heart condition –
and He is far more interested in what He’s doing IN me,
than what is going on around me!!

He digs up the hard ground of my heart.
tilling newness..
breaking away the old, planting tenderness.
and pain tills the deepest. 

I feel this urge to say that if pain produces that, then I’m glad for it.
but I can’t really say it loud. not yet. just a whisper still.
but it’s there. the belief. though small. it’s there.

right now. I just want to be moldable to His change.
to not, in the process of getting free from bitterness grow bitter at Him…
to question His Sovereignty.
to wonder why He doesn’t change circumstances
or why He doesn’t change the one that hurt me.

trust is hard in places like this.
but all I can do is pick up my own mess and take it to Him.


I desire to live above the noise of past voices.
to grab hold of His joy again that bitterness seeks to steal.
and to feel the light..
the light in places where darkness once filled.

that’s the light of FREEDOM!
and in that light there is no need to prove myself to anyone.

but if something needs to be proved it is this…
and only this.
that no matter how flawed.
how scarred. the pain. the mess of me.

God is bigger!

and because of that,
there is no pit too deep that His grace doesn’t go deeper still.

and THAT is the life I’m holding onto today!!!

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*all photos {but two} credit to Ben!

46 thoughts on “{what do you have to prove?}

  1. down_onthefarm

    this is one of those that has me gasping on the inside. nodding on the outside. reading so.many.good.thoughts. and sentences. His truth. that i gave up thinking i would c&p and quote all that felt like it h.i.t. home for me. because the whole thing did!

    i read something recently about pain being an invitation to intimacy…and while i am weary of all of the invites :). it’s true.

    my kids are about to walk in the door, my fil is stopping by for eggs any second…gotta go. so i’ll be back. till then, thank you sweet friend.^^^ i get it. love you.

  2. JsSteph7

    Love the picture of you! So cute! Love your shirt and boots. :)

     A lot of times my mind tries to go to past hurts or even current words that have hurt and I’ve learned I have to cut it off immediately. The verse that God has given me is “Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established.” So, I just take my mind and make a big UTurn and start thinking about what I need to be doing, what I plan on doing for the day or even take mental note of what I’ve done that day, you know good things for my family, etc..  and it usually keeps my mind busy enough to stay out of those areas that will drag me down and threaten to ruin my whole day. It has helped a lot. And I’m with you, I wish we didn’t struggle with that feeling of needing to prove ourselves. Most of the time I’m trying to prove myself TO myself. That’s just insanity. LOL

    Thanks for being a friend. :)

  3. pettybunch

    Being the “Pollyanna” that I am, I was close to 40 years old before I experienced trouble with forgiveness.  Always before, I’d been able to explain away any hurt someone had done to me, but the hurt that got me deepest was not done to me, but to my precious hubby…by someone who is closer to him than his own brother.  And, as is so often the case, he probably never knew he’d hurt Bill, and certainly not me!  It took more than a year for me to get to the place that I knew I’d truly forgiven him.  And that is only by the grace of God, and His understanding that I had to come back to HIM for forgiveness over and over!

    There’s more I wanted to say, but I have to run real quick. I love you, my dear friend!

  4. smilesbymiles

    Part of this was 101% me seven months ago. That day when I said this is it. I will not be haunted by those words and that lurking phantom “others think this, too” phrasing. I so wanted to live ONLY out of what God thinks of me, not what others want me to believe. It’s not that I’ve always stayed there, but the battle has never been so intense since. I have to go. Adam just got back from school. But I would LOVE to be able to talk about this more sometime. I think it strikes so very much at the core of everything that makes (or breaks) our relationships with others. Sending hugs and grace for the battle!

  5. lwstutz

    Wow! This is very close to my heart due to some very hurtful things that were said to me by a close family member in the recent past. God showed me recently that I hadn’t forgiven and so I am on a journey once again. The hardest part is to continue to pursue that relationship and to not ‘have something to prove’! I love your husband’s words about investing in the lives of people that will cry at your funeral. Incidentally, the person that has hurt me the most, will also fall into that category. How does that work? Grace for each day…..

  6. Anonymous

    Great blog Amber, God sent this to me just when I needed to hear it! Recently something happened that opened up an old wound and I have been struggling with forgiveness!!

  7. qawzse789

    Thank you. I have recently been up against the”battle of words” what people, who really dont ” know ” me.
    I have said I am done with it..i just want to live out of what Jesus thinks, then I pick it up again.
    I realized the hurt doesnt necessarily mean all the things people say to me that it does. Unforgiveness etc…..

    But, the pain is an invitation once again to run to Jesus and find out what He has to.say to me through the pain.
    Anyway, a reminder to me to weigh my words.

    I love your heart and spirit. Blessings! Kim

  8. mlt10202002

    *i* am going to cry! long and loud. so let me tell you what you have to do now!!! ha ha.
    i can get.so.tired. of forgiving. but you are so right…without forgivness, we cannot truly live!

  9. DawneElla

    I’m sure this is going to resonate with most of us…it certainly resonates with me. It reminds me of someone I have in my life who seems to get pleasure out of making me feel small. I don’t understand it, never will, don’t know how to get around it, attempts to hash it out only result in me feeling smaller, because then I’m accused of imagining things…it’s torture! I’ve tried to sort it out, forget it, it’s not going to work. I know what’s happening when it’s happening and it’s taken quite a few years to manage the situation so I’m not feeling wounded and frustrated all the time. Letting go quickly helps, hashing it out with God helps, trying to get to the bottom (with Him) of why I let, what I know is bad behaviour on the other person’s part, get to me so much, helps. I do beleive that it is one way God uses to keep me in constant interaction with him. It’s quite the challenge to treat this person with decency and respect in spite of the manipulations that I feel from them (and sometimes I fail miserably and my flesh stinks to high heaven) but I’m called to treat this person in a godly manner so I have to do that…it’s like a muscle that has to be continually exercised. God loves us…people can be mean (and I’ve humbly learned over the years that I’m a people too!) but God loves us.

  10. msluz

    So blessed by this. And so get the feeling of “having to prove” something. I remember saying about someone who had hurt me, that I just wish she’d understand how much she hurt me. Somehow in my mind that would have redeemed something. I guess I just wanted her to acknowledge what she’d done – to be aware of it. “A tale of three Kings” by Gene Edwards helped me process stuff like crazy. A thought I’ve been challenged with recently is that when someone offends/speaks hurtful things, it says more about the offender, then me. Helps me to not believe lies that I can tell myself.

    yeah, you’ve stirred up alot in me with this post. Love your authenticity.

  11. foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown

    so good Amber.
    living for others approval is a wearying way of life. a trap. but, one that is so easy to get caught in.
    reminders like this keep the desire to live for an audience of One alive in my mind and heart.
    blessed week to you!

  12. redladybug18

    you need to live for {invest, pour yourself into} those who are going to cry at your funeral…..
    so true!
    Forgiveness is hard, especially when it’s a “over and over” thing. I’m the one that tends to prove myself. To show others it’s really not true about me, to show them they were wrong ones not me. That pride likes to raise it’s ugly head that’s forsure.

  13. H0LDfast

    i agree with you … it must have been a silent monk who 1st said that.
    i’ve finally decided what it is about your pictures that are so captivating … its the light. you are really very good at lighting. of course you’re kids are darling & beautiful (with no offense meant toward ben!) and you are a beauty, too. but its the light …
    so i went over to april w’s facebook page to say happy birthday & saw your name & face. i know, i know everyone has a facebook page but somehow i’m still surprised like ‘oh hey look, it’s amber, she’s on facebook’ anyway i’ve just enjoyed a trip down memory lane scrolling through your friends seeing so many old names and faces from bygone institute days : ) obviously they’re all still around, it was just fun looking in and seeing all the married w/kids pictures. like ‘really he’s married!’ and ‘look at her kids!’ and ‘no way! he married her!’ and ‘ah, i haven’t seen her in years!’
    and now that this is practically a novel with really nothing to do with what you posted … except the monk part …. i’ll be done!!
    sorry for the scab bumping lately, that’s just ouchy.
    ~ alli

  14. madisonsmom2

    Wow! I think I need to read and re-read this. Thank you for writing… for letting God use you to get to me! Love you girl, and I’ll be one of the criers too! :)

  15. fourkidsonemom

    Another great post. Forgiveness is a tricky thing for me. Often times it’s those of us who have been hurt the worst, who are able to forgive the most. I get snagged on the need/desire to forgive those who continue the pain in my life. The hurt is constant because issues continue. It’s always the same people. The same hurt. Does it ever stop? I wish I could make it stop. I want to forgive, I don’t want to focus on the negative people – but I do. I want to change their mind about me, about us, abut our children. It’s unfair, I don’t understand. I never will. I love what your husband said. Sounds like something mine would say also. It’s so true! I’m wasting precious time worrying about people who honestly do not care, and they never will. While at the same time I’m losing the opportunity to cherish, love and forgive those precious few who love us back.

  16. ToLiveLoved

    shayne is a wise man.
    “only invest in people who are going to cry at your funeral” that is a profound statement and one that i’m going to chew on for a while.
    i think we so easily spread ourselves too thin. the reality is there is only a small circle of people you can be intimately close with……and yet, we care so much about all the other people who are at arm’s length and beyond. WHY???! makes no sense. i think men have this amazing ability to keep things simple in the area of people and relationships. we could learn a thing or two from them.
    wonderful post……
    i sent you a message. we need to talk to cindy, check all of our calendars and look at the summer for a rondevous. i know i misspelled that…..;-/

  17. appalolly

    I feel like you kind of said it all. And SO well. That I don’t really have much to add!  God’s blessings and peace and joy to you today, Amber.  Love your heart…

  18. happyangel78

    Love this post & forgiveness is something I struggle with a lot especially when someone close to me has said some very hurtful things to me-draws me closer to my Father though, so it’s good.

    Thanks for sharing your heart-beautiful words & gorgeous pics as well!

  19. Bumblypick

    Amen!! Truth spoken so gracefully well. We have to move beyond the seen and find the not so easily seen…the eternal…the call of Abba to our hearts, in the midst of pain, rejection, disappointment etc…that “living above” place….thank you for this great word of exhortation….Bless your week my sister!

  20. Elizabethmarie_1

    I too would cry at your funeral…and maybe if you wait long enough to die, my sister that I’ll be driving through Cincy with will be close enough to cry too! ;)

    This was great Amber. Two things I really liked that you wrote.
    1.Trying to prove yourself…I’m learning it doesn’t work, because you’re right, people already have their opinions formed.
    2.Satan is winning, not the people hurting us or the people we’re hurting.

    Happy Tuesday to you. =)

  21. SealedbyGrace

    It’s so difficult to hear “there are others, too”. It makes me paranoid about everyone and then I question all my relationships! I needed to read this today. I have had to walk away from someone and forgive and love from a distance. Not easy, but necessary! Love you, Amber!

  22. Anonymous

    So good, Amber!  Something we continue to learn for all of life, I think.  I love what DawneElla said, as well – about people who make us feel small.  Sigh.  The hardest part for me, is that Jesus invested himself not just in those who would cry at His funeral, but also in those who put Him to death.  I’m just working on loving “friends” – haven’t gotten to loving anyone else.    Thanks for this. . .

  23. frostysnowmom3

    Excellent post! Love this quote: you cannot manufacture the heart of genuine forgiveness and love. God builds it.
    I truly believe that. over time. a long time. a lifetime really. of coming back to Him again and again and again.. This is where I’m at….asking God to change me from the inside out….He must increase and I must decrease…….my daily prayer.

  24. parresia

    I still read you in my email all the time, but I never take the time to comment. I love your words and I love you photos!! :)

    I’m taking the time to comment today, because I am stealing this quote…I needed it for my blog post today!! :) I wish I could figure this out… and actually live it!
    “you need to live for {invest, pour yourself into} those who are going to cry at your funeral.”

  25. grace_to_be

    @DawneElla – i liked your reminder, “it’s like a muscle that has to be continually exercised.” that’s a good way to put it. and also. that we’re a people too in need of the same! always appreciate your perspective, friend.

  26. grace_to_be

    @JsSteph7 – thank YOU for being a friend too!

    @lwstutz – oh, i hear you.. when it’s someone close to you causing so much pain. it’s one thing to feel you can just walk away from certain relationships, but others, that are family, or someone just always “there,” those are the toughest. hugs.

  27. Beth

    I think people who want you to prove yourself are jealous. It all comes back to that.
    The trick is letting go of that junk and moving on while remembering that sometimes our behavior is junk too. just go forward and make time for the ones who count. Forget the ones who don’t.
    Hey since everyone else will be crying, can I get permission now to crack jokes at your funeral? I’m really good at making people laugh in awkward moments.

  28. Lindsay Hayes

    What a wonderful reminder, I needed that today!!! We have been looking for a church down here for over a year now with little success. The church doesn’t “need” us and thus we are of no value to them. How SAD! If as a believer and diligent church attendee I feel this lack of love and compassion than I know others feel and I can’t blame them for not desiring to come be with the church. I quote you Amber, ” I’m sure he’d love to see us persecuted more by the world -but he knows he doesn’t even have to step foot outside the walls of most of our churches!
    forget persecution from without. we’re doing a fine job all by ourselves of destroying one another from within. ”
    Thanks for your words of truth, to seek out the answers especially when we are hurting!!!
    Lindsay (Bramlage) Hayes

  29. Jackie

    I believe ~ that is isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself, then you free yourself from the prison of your own bitterness and it is a much heather life to live and as hard as it may seem at the moment the God of all mercy will show you the way. Praying for you Amber and the family

  30. Elizabeth

    Reading through the comments..I saw an old comment I left!
    Pretty much have the same thing to say now as I did then. ;)

    Except I’ll add, yes, whoever said that must have been a monk. Words hurt.
    Great post, great pictures….without snow.

  31. liberatidadio

    “you cannot manufacture the heart of genuine forgiveness and love. God builds it.
    I truly believe that. over time. a long time. a lifetime really. of coming back to Him again and again and again.”

    So true, dear friend. And some of those times we come back to Him, He himself peels off the scab, so He can clean out a festering infection underneath. And we treat Him like a little kid treats his mom, who had to hold him down while the docs lanced an infected wound, and sewed it up after… we are angry at Him, because wasn’t the pain of the wound enough? Why are you doing this to me too?

    But this is where moving in towards Him, instead of away, is so necessary. That mom, who hated having to hold down her boy while he was hurt even more after the first wound (though for his healing this time), will now kiss his pain away, give him cookies, take him for ice cream, and tell him how brave he was. That is, her love that allowed the healing pain to come to him, and her love after the pain, *these* are what brings the healing.

    Recently been going through some scab removal myself, so I really identified with your pain here. I love you sister, and I miss you. I will cry at your funeral, but since I’m likely to go first, I hope you’ll cry at mine. ;-)



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