This past week has just been "one of those weeks". Ya know, the kind where everything goes wrong and you know it's all your fault. The kind where as hard as you try to get into a groove it just doesn't happen. The kind where you try to find joy in the little things but that joy seems elusive. The kind where you feel like you could have dropped off of the Earth and very few people would have noticed. The kind where pushing through and getting by feels like the best you can do - yet everyone around you seems to just keep expecting more. The kind where every little thing sets you off and you don't understand why. The kind where you realize so much of what you thought you had been doing right is revealed as so much that you have been doing wrong. The kind where instead of a gentle nudge, the Lord uses a swift kick on the back of your head to wake you up. The kind where you want to press the pause button of life and just breathe a minute- or a month- before moving on.
Yep, I had "one of those weeks". This week the Lord revealed to me some major ways in which I haven't been surrendering to him. Some ways in which I have been selfish, uncaring, and just plain hurtful. I have hurt people I loved deeply. I've been on the other side of this and neither side is fun to be sure. When everything came to light, I felt disconnected, discouraged, worthless, misplaced, weary, burdened, indignant, over-driven, and lonely.
Recognizing a very particular sin in your life can be so painful and can surely hurt your pride. It should. Pride in and of itself is sin. Add to that all of the feelings and emotions mentioned above, and you've got yourself into a pit...one that feels unending and so deep that nothing will ever lift you out. This is where I sat Saturday night.
But, oh, Sunday came...and praise the Lord it did!
With pain ever present, we went to church Sunday. Honestly, I was faithless and expected to come home with even less hope. But the Lord was ready for me - He knew that's how I would be feeling and He had a word for me in a huge way.
First, he pointed to my loneliness. He put people in my path that I hadn't spoken to in months - or ever - who, by just asking how I was, did more for me than they will ever know. I had conversations with people that we have just met through high school ministry, a lady who asked to hold our baby and while doing so shared that her estranged daughter was getting ready to have a baby and she just wanted to hold an infant. She had such pain in her eyes as she held my sweet girl close but spoke a quiet and sincere thanks as she handed her back a moment later. I got to catch up with someone who is only an acquaintance. For the past year we've passed and said "Hi" and moved on with our lives but Sunday she stopped me to talk, really talk. What an encouragement. It's like every step I took, the Lord led someone directly in front of me - unexpected faces - and let me know that not all was lost. That moving on will be possible - even if it's not to where I thought I would be at this time.
Next, he pointed to my sin. That part wasn't easy, but through songs like "Lead Me to the Cross" and "Jesus Paid It All", I was faced with it fully - and then reminded of the fact that though I have been so unfaithful and so sinful, that doesn't take away the fact that Jesus died for me - that he allowed himself to be led to the cross for me and paid it all - everything - just for me! Paul says in Romans 5:20: "Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more." When my sin increases, grace simply abounds more! Now, please don't get me wrong - I'm also FULLY aware of the verse he goes on to say. Romans 6:1&2- "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?"
My eyes were opened to my sin, he confirmed one very important fact once again within my heart. Through my belief in him I am forgiven and I repented and now know that I must run as far from that sin as is possible - and I plan to with the Lord's strength and help.
After my time of repentance during the singing portion of worship, Tim spoke on the scripture from Genesis regarding how we are created in God's image. He brought up a great illustration from Brennan Manning about how God says to each of us, "You're my favorite!" The tears spilled forth at that point. There I was, sitting in my deepest pit and he spoke a word of love straight into my heart. Tim spoke the words, it felt like he was looking straight at me (not on purpose I'm sure) and said, "You are God's favorite". Now, I know part of his point is that everyone is loved by God, but it had been SOOOOOOOOOO long since someone had reminded me of his great love FOR ME - how he looks past all of the ugly, wretched places in my heart and sees love. He sees his daughter covered by his son's blood and sitting white as snow.
Such freedom was found in that moment. A freedom I hadn't experienced in so long. Not to be TOO cliche, but it was as if chains fell from my hands and feet - almost literally - and I could breathe once again. The son has set me free and I am free indeed.
The rest of Sunday was one of the best family days we've had for awhile. My two oldest girls and I shopped at JCPenney and had a blast just being goofy and then the whole family enjoyed a meal at Applebees. Those things on their own are not especially rare, but the light hearted feeling that has been gone for some time was back! We laughed and joked so much - I even FELT younger! This whole week has been much the same.
I know that though forgiven by God and feeling such freedom through Him, consequences here on earth of my sin will remain. Wounds will need to heal and hearts will need to mend. Things will not be as they were ever again. While I would do basically anything to take back my actions that led to others' hurt, this lesson I have learned is invaluable. From where I sit with the Lord, I know I am in good standing. And that's all that matters in the end.
Right now he gently reminds me of this scripture...
“Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalms 55:22 NKJV)
I am His child - of that I am assured. I WILL lay my burdens at His feet and allow Him to sustain me.
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:1-3 (ESV)
So what now? I will do my absolute best to rest on His strength and to be pure and holy- to do all things for His glory. Through that, may others see that I am changed - not through my earthly effort but through his heavenly power.
Over the coming weeks, I'm pushing the pause button on life, laying in His arms, taking a few deep breaths of Him, and then moving on...renewed.