On this the anniversary of my job resignation, I feel the need for reflection. And perhaps God will use the sharing of my heart to stir something in yours. I’ve done a whole lot of lamenting this year, but I’ve also done a whole lot of learning. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about God and I believe that’s at least part of the reason he is taking me on this journey.
I have learned that I had my life’s purpose entirely wrong. Previously, if someone had asked me to identify myself, I would have led with Social Worker. To me, that defined who I was. I knew I was a child of God, but sadly, it did not define me in the 100% way that it should have. This year, God has helped me start to align my identity with his identity for me. My purpose is far greater than my narrow scope. I am still learning my purpose but this I know for sure: My purpose is Heavenly and eternal. I was not put on this earth to simply be a Social Worker, although I can definitely be that to the glory of God. And you were not put on this earth for your own plan. We were put on this earth for God to accomplish his plan for our lives, whatever they may be, for his glory. And what an honor!
I have learned that God wants me to start noticing beauty again. Somehow in the business of life, I lost the awe. I used to watch the sunset every night in college and sitting on the back porch of my first apartment. But after awhile, I stopped noticing it so much. Now, I find beauty in my day in the gifts of nature, God’s people, his provision, his love, his grace. God puts so much beauty into our lives and I was missing it! Are you missing it? God also wanted me to find beauty in his Word again and become more acquainted with his Spirit. Reading the Bible before seemed like such a chore, but now I love my time with God. He has helped me deepen my prayer life by leaps and bounds and I am so grateful. I pray the same for each of you reading this.
Onto the not-so-pleasant lessons. I have learned that years of unfelt and unexpressed pain wreaks havoc on body, mind,and soul. I knew my stubborn need for control was not good, but I never would have guessed the extent and length of time I’ve refused to let go. I didn’t realize it could completely wreck a body and now I will live with the consequences for the rest of my life. God is slowly teaching me how to feel things as they come and also how to lament pain from many years ago. Ironically, I am also learning that I am an extremely emotional person. That’s almost laughable because of how long I’ve convinced myself and others of the opposite. Everything seems to move me, good or bad. God has given me a very sensitive and deeply-loving heart so I guess I should just own it! For better or for worse, I’m learning that is the real me. It’s hard, but I’m trying not to be embarrassed by it. That may take awhile! Have you discovered the real you? Are you being the real you or are you hiding? If you are keeping the real you from the rest of the world, we are missing out on you. Have you ever thought of it that way? We are missing out on the person God created you to be and the way in which he intended you to impact the world. I pray that we all learn to let go and allow God to use us for his purpose.
I’m learning that I have very deep-seated trust issues. I’ve been trying to control everything to protect my own heart for so long that I have never known the freedom, relief, and healing that comes from fully trusting my whole heart to God. I thought I trusted him, but the fact that I continue grasping at control has shown me that I do not. When my plan doesn’t work out, I lose hope very quickly. When the treatment I thought would make me better doesn’t work, I despair. But you’ll notice I said “MY plan”. Once I learn to embrace God’s plan for me, the joy that gets me through the hard times is indescribable. Slowly but surely, God is teaching me that he is the most trustworthy companion in my life. He is chipping away at my protective walls and I see the light of freedom up ahead. How beautiful it is! I pray that this freedom is made known to you!!
The other day, the song “From the Inside Out”, by Hillsong came on the radio and I realized that is what God is doing for me. He wants to heal me from the inside out. He wants me to let go of the protection of my heart and allow him to be the protector instead. God wants to give me a healing memory for each painful memory. He wants to show me that he was with me even in the past hurts and he can still heal those hurts today. Many of you know that I love sunrises, sunsets, and sun rays. Something about the sky reminds me that God is so amazing that he has all of us held in his hands and still has the power and love to paint us a beautiful picture every day. Something about the sun rays reminds me that he is with me. You may also remember my description of my first panic attack. I remember exactly where I was and how it felt to ride in an ambulance to a hospital where everyone who cared about me was hours away in any direction. I was in the car near the Weston, West Virginia exit and I truly thought I was dying. It’s why the majority of my panic attacks happen in the car and my chest still tightens when I near that exit. Thanks be to God, I was finally able to visit my hometown again recently for the first time in a long time. On the way back, sun rays beamed from the sky for the entire nine-hour trip. And where they shone most beautifully was… Weston, West Virginia. I realized right then that God was giving me a new memory to heal the pain of a heartbreaking one. That doesn’t mean I will forget. It’s hard to forget something like that. But it does mean that my chest won’t tighten so much when I’m in the car and I’ll smile the next time I pass that exit because I will remember that God was with me then just as he is with me now. He was mending that piece of my broken heart back together with his loving, strong, healing, unbreakable bond.
Mostly what I have learned this year is that God IS working and has always been working in my life. God knew even twenty years ago during my first real grief experience that I would be completely stubborn about not expressing my pain. He knew that if he did not eventually allow my world to crumble, I would never heal. Everything I thought I could control had to fall apart so that I could see who was always constant. I needed to see God waiting for me to run to him when I was finally forced to stop fighting. The clearest picture God has given me of myself this past year deeply moves me. I see a stubborn, angry child on the floor of her bedroom, kicking and screaming, fighting for what she believed she wanted and furious at the world for taking it away. I see that awful day when I screamed hateful things at God for my perception of a ruined life. But I also see a picture of a parent kneeling on the floor trying to comfort a deeply-hurting child, getting kicked and hurt in the process, heart breaking for being blamed for something he knows is best. I see God, trying to comfort me and hold me as I try to fight my way out of his arms and spew hurtful things at him in my heartbreak. I see him soothing me, rocking me, and singing over me with the love of a Father. He loves me even when I hurt him. How can I withhold my love from him when I am hurting?
God wants to heal my memories and my heart. He wants all of me, from the inside out. He wants all of us from the inside out. Our Father goes with us into 2017, rejoicing with us in the happiness and comforting us in the sadness. Through the good and bad, he holds his children. I pray that we feel his presence in ways we never thought possible this year and that we remain in awe of the beauty. Blessings on your New Year!
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