And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
In fact, I was struggling to believe period. I reached the end of a year of darkness that brought me to a breaking point, literally. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve “lost it” and I must admit that a couple months ago, I snapped like a stick. Completely, utterly, shamefully lost it. It was triggered by a simple comment, but one that reinforced a fact that I resented admitting and facing: no matter how hard I tried, I would never be the “old me” again. But there it was, staring me straight in the face and confronting me when I’d done my best to avoid looking at it too long for all those months. And the truth completely undid me.
Fortunately no one else was home, otherwise I’m not sure I would’ve been able to completely admit where I was at or face my reality head on. God knew I needed to be alone. I sat in the middle of the bed, beyond devastated, angry, and hurt, and I succumbed to wailing, crying, pounding the mattress, and looking up at the ceiling, telling God that He didn’t care. If that sounds dramatic, this next part will be even more shocking. I then began throwing the pillows off the bed, anything within reach became my next victim. And then I saw my journals on the nightstand. All those journals with years and years of quiet times with the Lord, special verses, notes from sermons, and all the songs in them. I took each one and chucked it across the room as hard as I could in mixture of anger and pain. As I surveyed the aftermath in tears, I looked at all those journals strewn on the floor and told myself none of it was true any more.
I didn’t get to this shocking moment overnight. You see, there had been months, even years, leading up to this point. Months and months of trying to accept a woman who seemed like a stranger. And the more I wrestled with God over my identity and my ideals compared to His will and plans for me, my faith was assailed. Every day was a battle to choose to surrender and not fight against God’s molding and forming. Every day was a fight to stay present, to face the day with a good attitude, to be there as much as I could for my family, and to not escape my true reality using a variety of forms to drown out the pain.
But in a moment, after a careless remark that screamed “failure” at me in the midst of all my trying and best intentions, my heart broke, my faith faltered, and I threw a tantrum. As I picked up various articles off the floor after my “moment”, I couldn’t help but notice one of my journals was now very battered and the binding broken. As I studied it with sadness, taking note of the damage, I couldn’t help but see the irony, because that’s exactly how I felt: broken, battered…as if things would never be the same.
Over the next following weeks, I went to the Lord in tears over that incident, begging Him to forgive me for my anger, but it didn’t seem to matter how many times I prayed, I felt a distance between God and myself. I feared the worst: that maybe my faith was so broken, it was beyond repair and/or what I’d done was unforgivable because of my unbelief. So many conflicting emotions, thoughts, feelings…I sensed friction between the Lord and myself, friction that had been simmering for many months.
Weeks before this explosion in my room, I remember walking down the stairs in a frustrated state at God, telling Him that He was really testing me. He responded, “You’re really testing me.” And I knew exactly what God meant when He spoke that to my heart – I was testing the depth of His love, the boundaries of His forgiveness, the measure of His grace, the lengths of His kindness. I was testing His very nature and character with my own behavior that was shamefully rebellious to see if everything God said about Himself was true. I found out that it was and is indeed very true.
When I finally came to that breaking point in a weeping heap in the middle of my bed, as ugly as it was and as shameful as my actions that day were, it was a turning point in my year-long battle with God over what He had chosen for me. It made me talk more to my husband and express the deepest and rawest emotions. My mom has been my confidant for many years, but I had even shut down on her, trying to brave it myself and pretend like nothing was wrong. Between the two of them, hearing message after message on Sundays that challenged me to walk in truth, and the Bible studies I committed to which covered areas related to what I was facing, no matter what book of the Bible we were studying or devotional we were reading… my heart was continuously, persistently convicted.
In one of my conversations with my husband, I was a mess of tears and emotions, telling him how I felt like I had less faith than I’d ever had before, that I was worse as a person than I’d ever seen myself, and he just gently told me that was a good thing. That made me cry even more, but his point was that seeing myself for what I really am without Christ and how much I need Him was priceless. When I shared my situation with my mom, she gently but firmly told me I had believed lies about the Lord that would take time to pull up, just like weeds. My pastor and his wife had no idea the turmoil I was going through, but every time I was in one of their Bible studies, Sunday school times, or listening to a sermon, there was no place for coddling the flesh and how it felt. There was just truth and what the Bible said and everything I heard resonated within me as an echo of what I already knew to be true.
I was exactly where God wanted me to be – in a church to hear and receive the truth about how a believer should respond when faith is tested in times of hardship, surrounded by people who cared about and loved me, not to mention that I was being relentlessly pursued by my Savior God Who wouldn’t and couldn’t let go of me because I am His child and I belong to Him. What a wonder, truly!
Coming to a place of humility, admitting my brokenness, my anger, my resistance, my pain, my questions, and being so tired of fighting God’s will that I was practically desperate to wave the white flag and surrender…that place is worth every moment of heartache and every tear. This is how our faith grows. Sometimes, we have to get chopped down to what may seem the root and it may appear to be a hopeless situation that would be impossible to recover from. But that’s exactly what we need sometimes for us to grow in the way God has destined for us and since we serve the God of the impossible, He can absolutely make that growth possible. He can and He will!
I’ll be sharing a song later this week with you that I wrote in response to this whole process that God has been leading me through. Until then, may you keep your eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame. Things looked pretty hopeless and impossible for Christ too…but the grave was not the end of the story for Him, but rather just the beginning. I’d say that’s a very promising leader to follow. =)