Twenty-seven years ago today, I realized that Jesus was real and I decided I was going to spend my life trying to get to know him better and begging him to change me. I had no idea what I was signing up for, gratefully, but I wouldn’t change a thing about that night, about that choice that changed everything about my heart and life.
This has been one of my worst emotional years ever. It has been a year of stripping pretty much everything away that I had known, everything that I thought would carry me through the rest of my life.
I re-learned many things; some things I just went deeper into; and I discovered one new thing this year.
I’ll start with that. After nineteen years at one church that I had come to assume would be my lifetime faith community, I realized that I was trying to make it be something for me that it couldn’t, and that I wouldn’t collapse into myself if I left. I’m still breathing somewhere else. I might even already start to be healing somewhere else. And I feel a peace that I haven’t felt in a really long time. So I guess I learned that a really hard, big change won’t take me out at the knees and render me dead. Good to know.
My deeper things have centered around others’ perceptions of me. I have never felt so judged, labeled, disliked in my life as I have the past year. (And it’s not just a hunch…horrible things have been said straight to me). That has hollowed me out, especially during my most vulnerable season of my life. That has left me obsessing. That has left me breathless, desperately wanting to understand and be understood. So this year, I’ve had to dig deeper into the truth that only God’s opinion of me matters. This has become one of my mantras. I’ve said those words to myself with tears streaming down my face knowing that though I should believe it, I clearly still don’t, otherwise I wouldn’t care so much what other people think of me. So this year wasn’t about living that truth out in victory; it’s been about going down to the depths knowing people think horrible things about me and only having those words to try to cling to.
Things I have relearned this year have pretty much all centered around my divorce, not surprisingly.
I have relearned that there is a community I can’t live without, and their fierce love me has been a shield around me protecting me against the pain and anger and disapproval. I’ve remembered that my true friends deeply love me, are willing to enter into my pain, and aren’t going anywhere.
I have relearned that God is real and his Word is alive, as he has brought time and time again one Scripture or another to my mind, to my consciousness, at just the right moment and sometimes in the craziest of ways; such as on the morning of my divorce when a sweet blog reader (who didn’t know I was divorcing that day) emailed me to say that she didn’t know what my day held but she knew God wanted her to email me to encourage me that he was with me and fighting for me. I’ve remembered that he is so ridiculously real.
And I have relearned that there is nothing I can do or say that will send God running. I have done the one thing I had promised myself I would never do, and God is still here. He hasn’t left me. I can’t make him love me any more or any less. He knows my name. He won’t abandon me. He thinks I’m precious. I’ve remembered that he just totally and completely and intimately loves me.
So, Jesus, thank you for the past twenty-seven years. Thank you for restoring my soul, for being my Defender, for providing me with loyal support, with not up and leaving me. Beyond grateful. Amen.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39-