And now… the Rest of the Story…

Here is part 3 of my continuing journey over the past couple of years. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here.

Let me just say right here: If you ask God for help – don’t expect Him to help you the way YOU think He should. He sees the big picture. He sees down the road – tomorrow, two weeks from now – twenty years from now. HE knows what’s coming. And HE will help you the way you NEED…

photo credit chaps1
photo credit chaps1

So here I was at home – finally getting the opportunity I prayed for since I was a teenager – wife to a very handsome hubby, mom to two beautiful daughters – and Queen of My Domain.

Only I was miserable.

My heart was so far from God that when He spoke – I could not (and sometimes just would not) hear Him.

I had moments of clarity and would beg Him to help me. But I didn’t want to do what He was asking of me. I didn’t want to yield my pride or my self-sufficiency. That was all I had left of me.

So, He allowed a series of traumatic life-events to bash away at my hard heart.

Kinda like the plagues of Egypt…

I was brought to my knees in fear, anger, hurt, dismay, disappointment. My marriage was tested. My peace of mind was challenged. My capabilities and gifts were not effective. My ability to enjoy life was almost non-existent.

And I truly felt like I had nothing left. It was dark and lonely. But I was not alone. I was in that dark place God was before He filled it with creation. Where He still is.

Just Him and me. And I couldn’t fight Him anymore.

So I gave up.

He began shining His Light into those deep, dark secret corners where nobody could hear those things or see those things I harbored in my life.

Self-hatred.

Resentment.

Pride.

Selfishness.

Oh they were all evidenced in my words, actions, and choices – but to hone in on a particular area and have those roots exposed was terribly uncomfortable. To feel His hands moving in my life as He began to slowly work them out of my life – terribly painful.

And yet, after the pain – I really began to slowly feel the first fledgling hints of joy. Peace. Love.

Where I was bitter – He began to soften.

Where I was lonely – He began to fill.

Where I felt so unworthy of love – He began to heal.

When He held up the mirror of His Grace to my life, at first all I could see was the mess I had made. And I was terrified. How in the world could God fix this mess? How could He possibly clean up the havoc I had wreaked in my life and in the life of others.

This was not something that came on when I got married, or had my girls – this had been years of living for myself. Years of embracing ungodly principles and ideas.

Thought patterns.

Behaviors.

Habits.

Choices.

And He – like a gardener – patiently and steadily began weeding the garden of my heart and mind.

It’s surprising to discover how many weeds spring up when you aren’t paying attention. Do you see in this picture – all the little green sprouts around the newly planted patches of lettuce?

This is pretty much how my life was. And I wasn’t paying attention. The weeds grew up and into my life – and flowed out of my life because I let them. If I ignored these weeds in my garden – my lettuce would likely die. Because I had ignored so many weeds in myself, my spirit was dying.

As God began to weed me, He also began whispering HIS TRUTH into my ears. Not the lies I believed about myself – about being a woman – about being a wife & mom – about any of it.

As He would pull a weed, He would speak into my life and pour life-giving grace into me.

Ezekiel 36:26 – A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

I have by no means become weed free – and in fact, there are still some pretty difficult patches where God is consistently removing bitter, choking, strangling roots of sin in my life. And I will write more about that

Today as I write this – is one of those days where I am crying out to God begging Him to give me strength to be the woman, wife, and mom He wants me to be – He has destined me to be.

I am caught up in the struggle of cleaning up after an almost 4 year old who doesn’t want to quit watching TV/playing a game/playing outside so she can use the toilet… sigh.

I am caught in the struggle of knowing how to find joy taking care of my family in the simple tasks of housekeeping (from sweeping floors and emptying trash).

I am wrestling with guilt & frustration at losing my temper and yelling at the girls when they do something that they shouldn’t / that I have asked them not to do / that I. don’t. like.

There is much to be said about knowing WHO you are. Not what you do – but Who. You. Are.

Who I am and What I struggle with are NOT the same thing!

It’s taken me a long time to understand the difference between WHO I am and WHAT I do. I am just learning how to understand that WHO I am and WHAT I struggle with are different – separate. My value does not rest solely in my ability, my talent, or my financial contribution to my family.

The mirror is revealing a different person to me. Again – I have not “arrived” per se – but I’m on the journey to wholeness and living in grace (which sometimes feels like a ginormous comfy recliner just enfolding me and letting me rest).

He has provided so many gifts recently to continue to emphasize this point in my life – A Woman Inspired, my Bible Study (Me, Myself, and Lies), incredible ministry opportunities at my church – and last but not least – my family.

The opportunities to serve the Lord in new ways are surprising and wonderful. Maybe I won’t earn a paycheck – and maybe God will provide for our needs right at the moment of our need – and maybe just taking care of my family and writing are going to be the things He uses for His purpose.

Maybe, just maybe, I can live out Philippians 3: 12-14

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

So while I struggle to fight irritation and resentment for the dirty socks that are left in the middle of the floor yet again, God is speaking to my heart to pick them up for HIS sake and take care of them for HIM. Not for my husband and not for my girls – but for Him. It’s really a new concept for me and one I dispute frequently with Him. He reminds me to serve HIM and do it for my family as if I were doing it for HIM…

So this is the place in my life that I find myself. Struggling with much less. Accepting much more. Imperfect and fallible.

But wow does GRACE feel good!!!

5 thoughts on “And now… the Rest of the Story…”

  1. YOU are an amazing woman – clay in the Potter’s Hands for sure – and willing to lay yourself open…weeds and all…to all of us who struggle also. Thanks for being an awesome inspiration! You are a very special work-in-progress and God has very special plans for you. You can’t go wrong by sitting at His feet. Is it any wonder they call it AMAZING grace???? WOOOOHOOO!!! XO

  2. As I was reading, I began to remember the bitter spirit I had when I was about your age. I still have a letter I wrote to God asking Him to remove the root of bitterness from me along with the picture of a big hand wrapped around a root lodged in my heart. Reading your blog I began to wonder if I would be taken back to that time and place, but surprisingly (why?) I was instead taken to the time and place just after I was freed. How to describe it…Have you ever had long hair full of tangles? The tangles are starting to hurt but the pain you have to go through to get them out is just plain scary, right? But the process to detangle begins and yes it does hurt. You think maybe it would be easier to just cut them out…it would! But if you did that you’d never experience the glory of a wonderful head of hair totally free from the tangles and the tingle of relief felt in the deepest part of your skull. It’s an awesome feeling. Besides, if you cut them out, some are still left to begin the process all over again, and quick. One thing more, and this is my favorite part, when you’re free, you are totally open to the most exquisite embrace from God, your detangler, and there is NOTHING like it. None can compare…
    What you’re seeing in foresight, I’m seeing in hindsight and the journey is really great, mostly because of where your heart is during the process. It’s good!
    You’re a good writer…God through you…keep it up.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate to SO much of it. The Lord has been showing me just this week that exactly what you did these past few days is a huge part of the process. For so long I have been trying to do it all on my own. Just this week I opened up to a few very good friends of mine. It helped me (and I think our friendships!) so much. And I really believe it helped me draw closer to God. Keep sharing my friend!

  4. This was gorgeously written and I can totally relate. I had a difficult time, and still do, separating what I do and who I really am. But, I think that is the beauty of being a SAHM because it forces you to do that. It forces you to be you without a label.

    But I also see how I have a difficult time separating my actions from my true self. A lot of time I notice that my lack of sleep, stress level, etc. cause me to act out in ways that I wouldn’t if I took care of myself better. I’m slowly learning a hard lesson, but it is helping me to separate out what I do from who I am…and helping me realize that taking care of mommy takes care of the kids.

  5. “It’s surprising to discover how many weeds spring up when you aren’t paying attention.” EXACTLY what we talked about on Monday! And so true.

    One of the other commenters mentioned feeling bitter – that’s something I really have to fight. The lies I tell myself fuel the (bad) fire, but Truth calms me down and helps peace grow in bitterness’s place!

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