It seems like Christmas was a long time ago, but we are still in January, and so technically the year is still new, right? How are those resolutions coming? I hit a slight “doldrum” week last week with being off schedule, going through a little sickness, and then the snowstorm throwing us all off kilter, but I am back, on track, and ready to share with you what God has spoken to me this week.
First, I wanted to ask, do you enjoy new things? I really do. I am a sucker for pretty packaging, for new shiny pretties and love to feel “fresh” when I have or wear new things.
Have you ever bought a new pair of sneakers and then get home and put your fresh new shoes next to your old ones, and you’re like “Oh dang! Those are ROUGH looking! I didn’t realize they had gotten so bad!”
I have my own situation kind of like that – let me tell you about it.
This past weekend, I was putting things away in our precariously balanced storage closet, and saw a container of books that I had packed away. Something possessed me, and I dug out a big fat journal that I had used from high school through the first years of our marriage – this thing is raggedy, well loved, and is tied together with a ribbon because there are so many loose pages bursting out of it! I think there are probably more papers shoved into it than there are bound in it!
I got the kids down for a nap and decided to start reading it. Let me tell you, there were tears rolling down my face after a few pages as a wave of emotion washed over me as I revisited some of the painful moments of my life. Some times where I felt very alone, afraid, and uncertain. Even at a young age, I wrote some very powerful things, and even though some of them are certainly touched by the drama of adolescence, they held so many memories for me of what my life had been like at those points that I couldn’t help but cry. During an especially difficult time for our family, I wrote “Please God deliver us from this trial – We need you more than we ever have before and know that You are our only hope…please grant us saving grace in our time of need…and we will praise Your name forever for the gifts You have given us when we needed them the most. Heal us all inside and out…”.
I re-read something that I had written in the aftermath of a relationship breaking up after being cheated on; I declared that I was done with relationships, and that God was going to have control over my romantic future – I wrote down all of the things that I knew were essential in a marriage, (secretly throwing my hands in the air because it was clearly impossible), tucked the paper into my trusty journal and left it to God.
I wrote so many entries about hating the person that I was – I didn’t know then, but I struggle with a few health issues that made life a little harder than it should have been, and it definitely affected me in more ways than I realized! I didn’t fit in, didn’t feel accepted, and felt like I was crawling on hands and knees when my peers sprinted by, in blazes of individual glory. Everything felt so difficult and I was tired of it. I had forgotten the depth of the emotions that I had at that point until I reread those entries a few days ago.
But you know what? This was all by design. Thinking back, I remember some specific instances – usually resulting in those pieces of paper shoved into my journal – when I was trying to study, was in class, or working, when I couldn’t ignore the inner fire that drove me to write those things. I couldn’t move on and my mind and spirit had no peace until I wrote them down. At the time, I considered it inexpensive therapy, and prayed to God no one would ever read them. But you know what? I read them. Just now. 15+ years later. When I am in a completely different place in my life.
I am still seeking God’s plan for me in several areas of my life, and am still sometimes uncertain, but just like that shiny pair of sneakers next to the ratty ones, I didn’t see just how far God had brought me until I saw my life side by side with my life from 15 years ago. I know that the Holy Spirit prompted me to write those things all of those years ago, and made me dig into the closet a few days ago and unearth them again — now I sit here, surrounded by a complete peace, utterly in awe of all that God has done in my heart, body, spirit, mind and life – He has made me new, and with that awareness surrounding me, I know deep in my bones I don’t have to spend one more minute worrying about what the future holds, or doesn’t hold – He has it under control and is working in and for me!
You know that piece of paper with my #relationshipgoals on it? God met EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. in the husband that HE gave me, in HIS timing, after I gave it all up and said it was a lost cause.
All those years of feeling less than? He used those to give me a heart for those that feel that way now. Those health issues that I didn’t understand? He used them to help me have better health now and relate to others in order to help them on their journey, in the midst of struggle, hardship and pain. Those tears I cried, feeling called to be a mother since I was young, but losing both of my first babies before I was able to hold them? He saw them, counted them, taught me about peace and joy and patience, and then turned each tear into a curl on the top of my sweet baby girl’s head when He brought her to us, in His timing, on His terms, when He knew we were ready.
You see, we can forget, and whitewash, and block out the past. We can keep seeing our present for what its NOT instead of what it IS. We can keep asking God, “Where are you? Why don’t you…? Why can’t you…?” But unless you stop to remember where you WERE, you can’t appreciate where He has you now; that He can do it, that He has been there all along, and that He will always keep working for your good.
If I didn’t write those things down so I could remember so vividly how I was on the inside, what my life looked like, and what I felt, I wouldn’t see with such astounding clarity the beauty of where I am, how I feel, how I think and how it is all due to His mercy and grace. God CAN change lives. God CAN change hearts. God CAN change circumstances – I am living proof of that, and I just needed to be reminded of that so that I could encourage you. Give it to God. Trust that “He who began a good work will carry it on to completion” (Phil.1:6) Trust that it may not happen overnight, but that God is at work. Trust that He makes all things new and His power is at work in you. Write it down and keep a record of your life, and you will be amazed to look back and see the power of God at work in your life through the years! Praise God!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:17
“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’’
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”