Monday, March 28, 2016

Where is God when your heart is broken?

What is God doing? Has He abandoned me? Does He even care or have an idea of how hard this is?

Sound familiar? I admit, yes. This is all familiar to me. If she wanted to, the churched girl inside of me could feel shame.  I’ve been a student of God’s Word since I was 12 (At that age a “student” really means I was sitting through many church services where the Bible was preached and preached hard). Twelve years old is also when I began to discover His wondrous love for me. An all-powerful and all-knowing creator has taken time to love me. To carefully draw myself to Him. Wow.

I’ve steered a boat maybe a handful of times in a straight line over the course of my life. So of course I was qualified to steer the ship of my own life. I did my best to change directions when I saw danger lurking or try my best to ride the waves in my own power, grasping frantically at the wheel when my grip became sweaty and feeble. It was tiring but I was making it.

I had been a Christian for 14 years when the storm and waves finally took the wheel out of my control. Those questions I mentioned plagued me. Not just in my mind but deep in my gut. My mind is what tried to bring me back to reality by recalling what the Bible says and all I’ve been taught. Through tears I would lift my head to ask God if He was still there. As if looking up, I might see him better.

I was searching for Him as though He was distant but I didn’t find him until I looked up close. When I quit talking to God as though He was on the other side of the planet with His face turned to me then I could feel His nearness. I then sensed His presence through some of the smallest details. Details that would not even be note-worthy to a single other soul, but at that time they were the breath in my lungs.

For 3 ½ years I combated the throes of warfare in my heart, and all that ugliness I told you about in my last post.  I know God loves me. “I’m His child” I would remind myself. But with anger and resentment the question would well up inside of me, “Why did He let this happen to someone He loves”?

Satan’s lies are the loudest when your heart is the coldest.

After all these years I FINALLY see with the most clarity that God’s grace and provision were most evident in my life through the tragedy that I was so angry about Him not preventing.

Where would I be today if God had met my carnal wishes and prevented my son’s death? Who am I to decide what’s best for my life? Is not the Creator more brilliant than the creation?

A self-controlled and shallow life. Complacency toward the hurts and needs of others. Only a partial view of God’s love, provision, and Grace... 
 A life more fully surrendered to His perfect will, a driving passion for the rest of His creation, and an engulfing sense and reality of His presence in my life.

I choose B.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

This verse would make me mad. I knew it. I was told it. But I was angry because I didn’t feel it or see it.

My faith was lacking. Only by faith can we trust in what we don’t see or feel. Isn’t that what faith is? I see now that God truly did have my best interest in mind through all the mess. He really was walking right next to me the whole way.

“Having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:7

This is where I’m living today and I am SO thankful for it. I have been built up in that faith. Hindsight is 20/20 right? If only I could’ve truly walked in faith rather than anger. Little by little though, as I watched God work one small thing out after another my faith did become more established. Today as I look at the whole picture I can see it was much more than just little details that carried me through. My vision was so blurred that all I could see was little bits here and there. Now I see the amazing work of God as He carried me in one hand and moved barriers out of the way with the other.

Of course I would have preferred a different mode of transportation to arrive at this point. But I’m not steering my own ship. I’m simply riding along, enjoying the sun or clouds, watching the waves crash, and most importantly knowing firmly that my Master is at the wheel, taking care to perfectly navigate me through the smooth seas as well as the rough ones.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A light in dark places

It was a warm, sunny day last spring. One perfect for staring at the black stone with my son’s name engraved on it. It was an impromptu trip as usual. Holidays are typical and planned but every other trip is made because of a reason I don’t know or feel until right before I put my shoes on and tug on the door handle.

This time it happened to be the pounding of my heart just right after one thought led to another which led me to realize I had business to do. This trip wasn’t for Hudson though. It was for me and God. I had been texting a friend and something in our conversation came up that made me realize I had work to do.
I guess I’ll be super transparent since I don’t know how else to write…
Ever since September 10th, 2012 there has been a corner in my heart where a light turned off. With time that dim space grew a little cold with no activity or abiding company. With a little more time, that dark, cold space grew a few cobwebs. Being such an unpleasant place I inadvertently didn’t go there. Nor did anything or anyone else. When I would get a glimpse of that dreaded space I learned to put up a wall and close the door. I was ashamed of it and my pride certainly wasn’t wanting anyone else to see the mess.
It’s like a great neighborhood with one abandoned piece of property. The grass grows up and the house falls down and it begins to affect the value of the properties around it. My heart was the same way. The dark, empty, cold corner began affecting the surrounding areas that were lively, full of light, and active.
This went on until I became so disgusted with the effects of that negative space on what should be all the positives of the condition of my mind, attitudes, and ultimately my heart. It’s like the light places in me were being overshadowed by the growth of what started out to be just a small, dark corner tucked safely away. Like an impending thunderstorm on a bright and sunny summer day, the cloud cover became more than I could bear.
For months and months before visiting Hudson’s grave that day I questioned myself, my close family, and God on what was wrong with me. I was seeing a whole lot of not so pretty habits and attitudes that I had developed and I hated them. I didn’t know where they came from or how I even invited them to take up residence inside of me.
My mom, sister, and husband were playing a timely role by being brutally honest when I would ask their opinions on my condition. I’ve always been one to embrace constructive criticism and I was ready for it. I needed help to figure out why I had changed so much and how my heart became such a foreign inhabitant in my very familiar body.
With time, prayer, brutal honesty, and ultimately a simple texting conversation with a good friend, I was putting pieces together. The puzzle was yet a little blurry but I knew enough and my heart was racing with nervousness, excitement, and anticipation of how to handle this revelation.
So there I was, standing in that well-known bed of grass, staring at the lower engraving on the stone that read, “Infant son of Brady & Misty.” Of everything engraved on the headstone that’s the line that makes me furious. I’ve always looked at it with great contempt and disbelief. MY infant son. Misty’s.
On that day, though, I purposefully looked at those words and said aloud, “God, I forgive you.” At first I said it with my head, so again, I said, “God I forgive you”. I repeated those words until my heart believed what my lips were uttering. As I became more bold and emphatic in my repetition the tears began to fall and I felt a warmth in my heart like never before. I drove home with a refreshed sense of joy and closeness with the creator of that child whose absence I had been so angry about.
It wasn’t until that day that the revelation hit me.  The nasty dark and ever growing corner in my heart was the absence of God. I drove Him out of that space because I was mad at Him and in that specific place of my heart I made a decision that I could no longer trust God.
Thankfully I was raised in a church where I was taught enough to firmly know that God would never leave me nor forsake me, as His word says, but that basic knowledge battled fiercely with Hudson’s loss and in ways that knowledge was replaced with anger and distrust toward my Maker.
Now, please let me state the truth outside of this detailed and lengthy description of my heart’s downfall.
God had done NOTHING wrong. He didn’t need to be forgiven because He was not at fault. I needed those words to come out of my mouth and settle into my heart because all that time I had blamed Him for the whole ordeal. This was a Misty issue, NOT a God issue. When I allowed His light to reclaim residence of my ENTIRE heart I then had victory over the struggles I was so weary of fighting.
Now, let’s be real some more. It’s not been all smooth sailing. That little place in my heart is thankfully cleaned out and restored, however, it’s more prone than any other to have the light switch flipped and begin filling with cobwebs and dust once again. It’s the space in my heart that requires the most attention and housekeeping. It’s also the one with the greatest testimony!

As I said earlier, I don’t know how to write unless I’m transparent. Possibly even too transparent! I also don’t know how to write unless the topic is one that I know well and feel strongly. I stand a little faulty with my overuse of mundane detail, but for me, it’s what makes a story real and my hope is that in the long description and miniscule minute-by-minute replay, just one small word or thought can sink deeply in your heart or mind.

I pray that something I said resonates with a struggle you’ve faced, or a victory you’ve won. I pray that this post is an invitation to inspect your own heart, or to praise God for the work He has done in it! It is vital for me to constantly remind myself that God is good and He desires nothing but good for me… and YOU! God is our light in dark places, even those of our heart, if we just invite him there and are willing to do a little housekeeping!