Healing Deeper

Thinking about healing tonight. Old wounds. Past hurts. 

No matter how many times we’ve talked about a hurt there are always deeper levels of healing to be revealed.

Sometimes you don’t even know you have something that needs to be healed until the opportunity presents itself to have the wound exposed. 

How you choose to respond will determine the outcome. 

Allowing a scar to be opened and cleansed when we didn’t even know we needed it brings a deeper level of healing. 

A healing you weren’t even asking for but now can see that it brings you that much closer to becoming whole. 

Resolve to Live

12/31/16. Last day of 2016. Looking back over the last 365 days and looking forward to the next 365 days. Thinking about my New Year’s resolutions and whether it’s even worth it or not. Thinking about how to hold on to all that I so desperately need to bring with me into 2017 and trying to figure out how to let go of everything holding me back that I somehow keep dragging with me. 

My resolutions for 2017 pretty much look like the same ones I’ve set every year:

  1. Read my Bible and pray more
  2. Lose weight
  3. Be a better Mom

There’s something so hopeless about striving for the same thing year after year and feeling like every time you look back you’re no closer to where you wanted to be than when you started. I ask myself the same question that I just can’t seem to figure out — why do I keep letting go of what I’ve promised to hold tightly to just to find myself clinging to an empty imitation of really living?

I’m sitting here crying over time wasted, mistakes made & words spoken (yelled) that I can never take back. Even as I’m writing this, I’m interrupted by someone asking me to watch them dance and another someone wanting me to see what their toy can do. And I say, “Not now! Can’t you see I’m doing something?”

I hear a voice in my head say, “Resolutions are not met by writing them on paper. Be what you have resolved to be.”

I set my pin down and apologize (again) that Mom doesn’t get it right as much as she should. And I ask the dancer to dance. And I tell the little one I would love to see her toy. And I pray that as they grow they will not just see all the places I’m weak and all the ways I blow it every day but they would see a woman with brokenness and insecurities in desperate need of her Savior, who kept persevering and kept trying to get it right no matter how many times she foolishly let go of what matters most. 

This New Year’s Eve I won’t just be setting goals and making resolutions but I’m resolving to be the woman God has called me to be. A woman after His heart and His purpose for my life. A woman who wants to be healthier so she chooses to live healthier. A woman that is already the exact Mom for these girls that God knew they would need. A woman who struggles with being validated, accepted, liked and seen by every single person she meets on this journey but who is learning to rest in the validation, acceptance and love of a God who knows her deeply, sees her fully and in His faithfulness has promised to hold tightly to her…regardless of what was or wasn’t accomplished in 2016.

Another fresh start is on the horizon and I want to make the most of the time I have been given. I resolve to live. 

A Glimpse in the Dark

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
-Ephesians 2:10

The sky is dark. The wind blows past me with the fierceness of time moving too quickly for me to stop. Images are carried in the wind. Familiar scenes from days long gone run by me in a flash. I stand alone in the middle of nowhere, wondering how I arrived here in the amount of time it takes to pass from the last moments of wakefulness into the land of slumber. Still pictures of my life thunder on beyond me at a screaming pace. Confusion floods my thoughts. What brought me here? Or better yet, who brought me here? And why? The questions fade as I make the effort to decipher what each glimpse rolling before me holds.

My wedding day. My first day of Kindergarten. Learning to ride my bike. Swimming at the lake. Running away from home. The day I was born. Hanging out with my brother. The first time I saw my one true love. The night I accepted Jesus. The day my Grandma died. High school graduation. Long talks with my sister. Saying goodbye to my family. Moving away from home. So many memories flooding past me.

And then, they’re gone. Nothing but total darkness surrounding me. What am I supposed to do now? Do I stand here in this spot forever? Should I start walking or am I waiting for something more?

So, I wait. I’m in the middle of nowhere and obviously been brought here for a reason. What else can I do but be patient? Am I dead and this is really what it’s like between life and death? Maybe I’ll be seeing Jesus face to face any minute now.

Without warning, a blinding light shines down in front of me. I shield my eyes from the intensity of the light in the total darkness surrounding me. Then I hear a voice. Strong and powerful, sending me to my knees.

“I have shown you who you are and where you’ve come from. Now you will see who you are becoming and where you will go. May you then depart from this place and return to where you’ve come from knowing I have always had a special plan for any who are willing to seek My kingdom first. For any who are willing to lay themselves down and walk in the confidence of My abilities, not their own. The future holds many plans for those who are willing to let go of simple dreams & choose to embrace the passions of the One who put the stars in orbit. This is My desire. This is My plan for you.”

Then total darkness envelopes me as more images flash before my eyes. These pictures do more than just roll by me. They  surround me. Faces of people I don’t recognize. Too many to count. I turn in circles trying desperately to see all of them at once. The closer I look, I see each image has a caption. I move closer, frantic to see what is written in the air. As my mind registers the words, my heart begins to break. What I first thought were just names, are actually words describing who these people think they are. Words they would use to describe themselves if they were honest enough. Words that make them vulnerable. Almost in disbelief, I begin to read these words out loud:

Lonely. Addicted. Suicidal. Confused. Desperate. Unlovable. Ugly. Hopeless. Lost. Ashamed. Scarred. Used. Broken.

Silence fills the night air as my tears fall. I drop to the ground. Overcome with emotion at seeing the heart of total strangers. So much hurt and struggle that I can also see in my own heart. On my hands & knees, I watch the images fade. Total darkness returns and engulfs me. No pictures. No blinding light. Just me & the night air.

I close my eyes & take a deep breath. I ask myself where do I go from here? What is the point of all this? Am I just dreaming or is this for real? I open my eyes and see a small piece of paper on the ground in front of me. I slowly pick it up & see the words before me seem to be illuminated on their own. I read them aloud:

“My plans. My passion. My love. Give yourself to Me & all I have is yours. If you are willing, I will glorify Myself in you & transform lives through you. The choice is yours.”

As the magnitude of those words sink in, the light slowly fades and a blank page stares back at me. I stand to my feet and I begin to walk. I don’t know what direction I’m headed or what lies ahead. I realize now every day is like that blank page. A fresh start. A renewed chance to be used by God.

I know who I am. I know where I have come from. Only God knows who I will become. Where I’m going. The plans He has in store for me or who He will place in my path. One thing is for sure…life will never be the same again.

 

Originally written 1/25/2005

T.L.C.

Honoring the legacy of a life well lived with thankfulness for God’s tender mercies that brought me out of darkness.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Grandma Mac today as I have been on this day every year for the past 16 years. Normally on this day I think back on my favorite memories, spend some time missing her and crying a little bit but today I started thinking about how my world was completely rocked when she passed away. I had never faced death before and my first look was with a person that was literally a second mother to me. I didn’t know how to respond, what to expect, how to move forward or even how to grieve. The depression I had always struggled with took a nasty turn and dragged me down into the darkest pit I had ever known.There are plenty of times over the last several years that the fog has lifted temporarily but it always seemed to find a way of returning to settle around my shoulders no matter what I did. It’s only been very recently that I feel as if I might have finally left that pit behind for good. This morning I was thinking over the twists and turns my life has taken over the last 16 years. The very lowest moments that I desperately cried out to God to deliver me from the darkness. All of the high moments that I begged God not to let me fall away again even as I felt myself sliding back into that deep pit.
I see now that there are times that God will deliver us from something in an instant but most of the time He works at a slower pace, patiently waiting for us to get on board. Faithfully showing us grace and unconditional love as He walks us through the valleys. He knows us so well. He sees our tendency to wander. He knows how hard it is for us to trust Him enough to allow Him to take over the dark places in our hearts.
I was taken by surprise and brought to tears as I realized this morning that God has been setting me free in the smallest ways every day in an unhurried way not because He is slow but because He is so very tender. He binds up our smallest hurts and cares for our greatest wounds with such compassion because He is good and He is kind. I see the touch of His hand on each & every scar that He has so lovingly healed. He does not set out to devastate us or strip us down in an instant of all that He longs to free us from. He gently pursues us with our restoration in mind. There are still days that I feel that dark pit yawning open right behind me waiting to devour me but the longer I walk this path the more I see that Jesus is more than enough to deliver me and rescue me from my darkest self.
Today as I remember my Grandma and all that she was to me, I can’t think of a better way to honor her legacy than to live my life thanking God for all of His faithful and tender ministrations to every hurt, every sorrow, every disappointment and every dark place inside of me.

Don’t Go Back to Egypt

I’ve struggled off & on with some extremely dark depression & defeat since I was a teenager. I felt God putting this message in my heart this morning about trusting Him & not living in fear. I don’t know what you’re facing today but I’m praying this encourages you.

I was reading Numbers 13-14 this morning which tells the story of Moses sending out 12 men to explore the land of Canaan to see what the land held in store for them when they took possession of it. When the men returned to report to Moses & Aaron 10 of the men were filled with fear as they described all of the enemy groups living in & around Canaan. Caleb was the only one who spoke up and said, “We should go up & take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” The men who went with him were convinced it was impossible & spread that word among the Israelites. Once the Israelites began to be fearful they immediately wanted to return to Egypt.

Instead of trusting God to fulfill His promise to them they would’ve rather return to their former life of slavery, bondage & imprisonment. After all that God had done for them…delivering them, providing for them, protecting them, showing His faithfulness & patience, performing signs & miracles…they still wanted to return to Egypt.

As I was reading these verses I found myself relating to the Israelites. I’ve asked God to free me, deliver me & do a new thing in me but once He does that & things start to look scary or uncomfortable, I let fear creep in. I start to slip back into all that God has already freed me from. In my fear I lose sight of all God has done & all the ways He’s been faithful. I don’t want to continue living in fear. I want to be like Caleb & speak out against fear. I want to believe God for what He’s promised me. I don’t want to keep imprisoning myself in the old broken chains every time I’m faced with an impossible situation.

God is either worthy of our trust or He’s not. What is He wanting you to believe Him for? He does not deliver us from our bondage and part the Red Sea of the God sized problem threatening to swallow us whole just to leave us to ourselves. Trust Him to fulfill His promises in your life. Keep choosing to walk in the freedom He has given you.

Walking in Circles

My heart was heavy with questions this morning. After praying (and talking to my Mom), God reminded me of this simple truth and these words came pouring out. I’m praying it will be an encouragement if you’re facing a similar struggle today.

What do you do when you’ve prayed believing that God would bring freedom and healing but none of that seems to be happening? What do you do after He answers in big, miraculous ways and we praise Him for the scales falling from our eyes and the chains breaking from our hearts only to find that we’re still blind and bound? What then?

Were our prayers for nothing? Did we not believe enough? Were we hoping in vain? My head says nothing is wasted in God’s economy but my heart is breaking for all that is, all that could be and all we thought God was doing. So, what now?

That’s the question rolling around in my heart this morning. What now, God? And I hear Him say, “Keep walking. One step at a time.”

The path ahead is surrounded by darkness but God provides enough light to see the next step. The road is muddied with our tears. The heart break and agony is pouring from our eyes to the ground beneath our feet but we keep walking. Each step forward is a step towards Jesus. Each step says, “I am for Jesus” and it may not make sense to our limited vision but if Jesus is calling us forward, who are we to question His methods?

We look around and see destruction, chaos, sadness & broken families but Jesus says, “Keep your eyes on Me.” And so we do. We walk, we pray, we cry and we cling to the hope that God will use every bit of it. In His time. In His way. One step at a time.