Life’s been strange this last year. Okay, by strange I mean difficult. It’s hard for me to say that. Life has been hard. Phew. I’m an optimist- usually I can find the positive in just about anything, but recently it’s just been tough. And it’s hard for me to admit that- to God, to myself, and to you. It may sound dramatic, but I am not used to feeling so many poopy feelings. These last couple of days have been refreshing though and as embarrassed as I am to open up about some of the things I have been feeling and what God has been revealing to me, I am going to share it. I’m going to let the (blog) world know that I don’t have it all together…and that’s okay.
This morning was the first morning in forever that I didn’t jump into my “to-do” list. I didn’t worry about the laundry, the dishes, cleaning the litter- nada. As silly as it sounds, it took a lot not to think about what I “have” to do today. But gosh darn it, I was going to have my morning! So I leashed Chloe and we went on a beautiful walk. It’s amazing how refreshed a simple walk can make you feel. I felt Him this morning. I felt him in the breeze, the flowers, the smiles from others. And man, was it good. But here’s the thing, I had to be intentional about it. I have taken that walk a handful of times since we moved to this neighborhood, and have never noticed what I did today (lesson one!).
Last night felt like an awakening for me and while I was on my walk this morning praying through my experiences last night, I had this crazy thought to blog about it.
Yesterday and this morning were so refreshing for me because I took time to just ‘be”. I don’t do that anymore. Most days I jump out of bed and quickly start the day. I don’t let myself process, to pray, to listen, to learn. Instead I fill my time with silly things. Every time I just take a breathe and allow myself to stop though, I grow. I once read that when we enter God’s presence we always come out changed. Ain’t that the truth! If only I could remember to live it on a more regular basis. 😉 So here’s what I have been learning in this crazy journey called life…
1) I am loved despite my circumstances
This has been a tough one! As a Christian, this truth should come naturally, right? Wrong. I have battled with God so many times over the the “why” of life. This last year has been filled with a lot of physical and emotional pain, and it’s been hard to praise Him and feel loved in the midst of it. In February I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease after experiencing some grueling pain and a body that wouldn’t heal. My body is not completely healed yet, but I am opening myself up to being healed emotionally and spiritually. See and that’s the thing, I have to open myself up. God has been here all along. This is something He was reminding me over and over again last night. He has been here, is here, and will be here no matter what happens with my body.
I had this image last night of me taking bricks and building this wall and on the other side was God taking down each brick I put up. I was frustrated that I wasn’t making progress and that my own efforts weren’t enough, but He was showing me that He wanted to break that wall down- He wants to join me on the journey. He wants me to feel cherished, valued, and loved in this. Right now. That my own efforts to overcome this are not enough. They are superficial. He wants to be on my side of the wall to help me grow in this season. To grow closer to Him and grow into who He has created me to be.
I have been reminded time and time again, that it is not the “why” but the “Who”. When I ask the why and let it settle, I feel lost, confused, and even angry. I start to build that wall up even faster and my heart becomes hard. And it’s been hard for a while. But when I turn and focus on the “Who,” I remember that God is in control, He loves me, He has a purpose in this, and that this life is temporary. The “Who” takes me outside of myself. It helps me focus on what is real and why we are here in the first place. I could feel my heart softening last night as I was relishing in the “Who”.
And lastly, I am learning vulnerability in this. Hard core. It’s tough for me to be honest with God and others. I feel like I need to have everything together and that I am wrong in thinking some of the things that I do. So this takes me back to the “why” and the “Who”. It’s okay for me to be real with God. To ask the “why”? As a matter of fact, that is how my prayers started last night. They were full of anger and hurt. And with tears steaming down my face (oh yeah, bring on the ugly cry) I asked the “why’s”. I expressed my frustration and my sadness. And you know what, He took it. He cared for me in it. There wasn’t judgement or ridicule from Him. Which I am always so fearful of. It’s funny that I’ll have these thoughts, but then not express them to God. It’s silly, but last night I started off some conversations with Him like “I know you already know this, but…” and “I know you know my thoughts, but this is hard to say out loud…”. And guess what, I felt relieved. I felt cherished in those moments and that led me to the “Who”. I think we run from being vulnerable with God so many times, but it’s when we let ourselves be authentic with Him that we come to a place of healing and revival.
2) Who are my idols
Another toughy. Oh man, I have been living this last year with so many false idols, and I didn’t even realize it! I have been so consumed in my struggles, that I did not realize that I was not putting God first. Sure, I maybe felt that at times but never took hold of it- until last night.
My first idol has been my struggle. That’s right, I have made my hardships some of my idols. I would have NEVER thought that this could become an idol. Too many days I put my struggles first. I have been letting them consume me and I have been giving way too much time and effort to them. Yeah, I need to care for my body, I need to work through some of this stuff, but I also shouldn’t let it become one of my first thoughts in the morning. I shouldn’t let it be something I think about over God. I’ve let it wreck me over and over and when something has that much power over you, it becomes an idol. I’ve let it define me this last year, but I am choosing to be defined by Him from this point forward. This struggle is not me. Yes, it is a part of me, but it does not make me. It will no longer be worshipped.
Another idol I have made is my husband. Gasp. How many of us do this? I am sure I am not alone in this- it’s hard. I want him to complete me. I want him to heal me. I want him to say just the right things when I am hurting. I want him to bring me joy. I want him to listen to my constant battles. I go to Zach with a longing to be made whole. And don’t get me wrong, my husband rocks. I couldn’t imagine going through all of this with any one else- he has been my safe place and a comforter time and time again, but he can’t complete me. I’ve put so many unrealistic expectations on him that it is not only disheartening for me, but it is for him. When we put another human as our idol, it’s not only tiring for us, but it is exhausting for them.
Zach cannot be my God, and that’s okay. Actually, that’s a good thing! I am relearning what it means to put God first- to let Him captivate and move in me, and then for HIM to use other people in my life- instead of me putting the pressure on others. That’s so freeing. And with that, I can start to love my husband in the way he needs to be loved. I want to pour into him and show him God. When I place him as an idol and just want and want from him, I cannot fully care for him. It gets me excited thinking about taking him down from his position as “idol” in my life and reclaiming him as my husband and friend.
I know that each of these are going to be difficult to remove, and I may have to take them down countless times in one day, but the blinders have finally been taken off- God is my redeemer and my beloved. These idols I have placed in my life give only temporary satisfaction, but His love runs deep.
3) Fear has no power
Fear, oh fear. I dislike you. A lot. Fear has crippled me time and time again this year. Many days I have let it completely consume me. This year I also found out that I have MRSA. That’s what started this whole stinking mess. Now there are a handful of people who have MRSA- they are simply carriers of it and don’t know. They never experience any symptoms or have any issues. And here’s the thing, I only had an episode with it once, so you would think it would be no big deal. But fear has really taken a tight grasp on my life. I have become a carrier of MRSA in my nose (I am taking medication now to get rid of it), and so I live everyday with fear that I am going to spread it to someone else or spread it on my body again. Let me back up- a lot of people have it but don’t even know about it, so why am I becoming so consumed by it?
If we get right down to it, it’s a control issue. I don’t trust God and what He is doing through this (you’d think I’d get this by now!). Instead, I have let fear creep in (you could even call this another idol!) and break me down. This is so embarrassing to admit but I wash my hands…a lot. I disinfect our place…a lot. I do so many odd and obsessive things that I have never done before- just so I can control my life and not get MRSA again. But I have no idea how I got it in the first place! That’s the thing that should free me- I should just know that it’s not everywhere and unlikely that I’ll break out again, but if anything, this has watered the weed. It has made me question everything and I have to challenge myself almost every second of the day not to worry about germs.
So silly, I know!
I am shameful of this and am learning once again, that it doesn’t define me. I am learning that I can’t protect myself from everything and that I need to trust God again. It’s my slap in the face to see that I need to rely on God. I need to come back to Him and trust what He is doing in this. I need to understand His protection and provision over my life. It’s tough and something I haven’t fully grasped yet, but it is something I am yearning for and making baby steps in.
And it’s something that has also taught me the importance of community. I have tried to be as open and honest with those closest to me about this and they have provided me with so much wisdom, care, and prayer in it. If I just hid this (or thought I was hiding it), I wouldn’t have felt the freedom I have from community. They have spoken these truths into my life and have challenged me to come back to God. When we struggle with something, it feels easier to keep it locked up. But I was noticing that when I tried to hide it, I got worse. I was more consumed. If you’re going through something and you’re afraid or shameful to reach out, just know there is freedom in bringing it to the surface. I have received so much love and support by being open about it.
You are not your hardships or your struggles- you are His. You are lovely and worthy.
Thank you for joining me on this crazy journey. This was a long and possibly sad read for you, so I appreciate your care and desire to learn and grow alongside me. I am excited to move forward and come back to life!