All I really know is that before God scooped me up, I was a mess.
Wrong turns, repeated mistakes, trouble and turmoil on a stick.
Those years long ago, I had no sense of things outside myself and I grasped at anything I could lean on–leaning hard and off balance, until the “leaned on” toppled over or stepped away, leaving me to crash to the ground. Co-dependency was modeled for me to a fault in my coming-of-age years and I perfected it in my own drama when I left for college. A pathetic, confused wreck of a young woman who had no idea which way was up–or WHO was up for that matter. It produces such deep sadness in me now when I think about how lost I truly was.
A distant cousin (twice removed) was how I saw God–checking in long enough to shake His head at my plethora of poor choices and emotional baggage being toted all over town. I never even thought to fall to my knees (and there were many knee-falling worthy scenarios in those days) to ask for relief, hope, a break in the action packed chaos so I could catch my breath and reflect on who I really wanted to be.
I also needed to see what boulders had been flung in the road…they needed to be blasted into bits and moved aside, but I wasn’t sure how. Big ‘ole rocks like insecurity about my looks on a southern California campus where all seemed blond, tan and wealthy. Other rocks being sad relationships where I lost all sense of self and morphed into who I thought the current obsession thought I should be. There was one particular night when crumpled into a pile of tears and self loathing on the dorm floor, I was picked up by a woman who knew what I was missing. It was a discussion that led me to the chapel where my singing ensemble rehearsed and performed. It felt very different without the echo of the in-between-song chatter of the group. There was complete quiet, only the reverberation of my footsteps could be heard as I timidly walked up the aisle of pews. I wondered if it really took this depth of quitet for God to hear me. Or was it that it was the solitude I needed to drown out the horrible “noisy school lunchroom” that seemed to rage in my head?
There was peace.
I held onto it for several minutes.
I asked to be known. I asked to be sure in the knowing that I was known.
I was so desperate to be completely transparent and found out. Resting in having nothing to hide–it all being strewn across the cold chapel floor. I wanted to feel free in the mess…sure that somehow God, this powerful, all-knowing (yet still foreign) force of the universe could release me of the darkness in my heart’s depths. Darkness that I couldn’t even admit to myself because I was trying so hard to keep up with my crazy swirling world around me.
The glimpses of God went along like this in my intermittent chapel visits when I felt dark clouds roll in. Otherwide, He remained that distant relative who only heard about my missteps through fuzzy family channels.
Why did He only dwell in between these stained glass windows and ceilng arches?
Like all of the things in my life, I needed to put Him in a box so that I could have access when I felt I was going south, like a safe deposit box I could open in times of crisis. How weird that I would confine Him like that when I needed Him to be everywhere I was.
The cheese truly stood alone.
Then He sent me a gift that stood 6’6″ with an easy laugh and adoring eyes.
With all my past history of misplaced devotion, it is a miracle of miracles that my perfect match would walk into my life when I was 24. This is the kind of love that many find later in life, after marrying and divorcing the wrong one. I am sure that it would have been terribly easy in that time of my life to marry into dysfunction–heaven knows I had watched what that looked like my whole life, but I was spared the heartbreaking experience of choosing incorrectly, something that hurts to see in those I love…like with the beautiful, strong woman I share this blog with. Unreal hurting that rips it all apart. I’d seen it in my own parents, and I can feel that hurt even now in my adult years.
Aside from being all things I needed in a partner, my husband was a wonderful example of trusting in faith and asking God for guidance. My own flirting with faith experience that had gone on since my late teens was getting old. I wanted so desperately to let God out of that chapel box and flow into my life like the powerful river that He is. There’s a great lyric in a Nichole Nordeman song:
Rolling river God…little stones are smooth…
only once the water passes through.
So I am a stone…rough and grainy still…
trying to reconcile this river’s chill.
I was a jagged little pebble when I first genuinely held my hands out to receive God’s grace—His loving mercy washing over me. I had let Him out of the small space I’d kept Him and gave him the keys to it all….all my hurts, insecurities and anxiety. I took this balled up wad of human wreckage and I traded it in for hope, trust and an utter amazement at what can happen when you pray with sincerity.
My new husband (wow… that was 16 years ago) was a part of all of this, quietly cheering me on in my newly lighted path. I was doing it all on my own, without being the Leaning Tower of Piza. Finally, the only recipient of my leaning was a faithful God who from that point on held me up and provided me all that I needed to get on with it..and get on with it in JOY.
I still squeeze my husband’s hand when we walk out of church on Sundays. How amazing to have your great love lead you to the Greatest Love.
I want the women I come across who are feeling the same kind of despair that I did to know that there is hope. It can all come together and be an amazing life with only the past looking dark behind you. Asking for what you want (something Elida and I talk about a lot in our retreats) is a huge part of this….another part is believing that you are
what you want.
There was a turning point when I realized I didn’t have to be my old habits. I didn’t have to define myself by what the dumb stuff I’d done earlier in my life—it was a clean slate and I had every right in this life to make something amazing out of it…and to be very selective of who was going to be a part of it. What I would say to women who are feeling despair or sadness regarding their direction is that it can be truly revealing to take inventory of the people who make up your story. How do they treat you? Is there respect and love involved? Do they reciprocate when accepting your kindness? Take a good, long, reflective look at the patterns of friend or mate choosing in your past—maybe it’s time to let go and only be around people who lift you higher. Letting go is a challenging process that can release so much hurt and open you up to huge breakthroughs.
You are so loved.
You are so incredibly worthy of happiness and contentment.
Dive in to the possiblity of loving who you are and where you’re headed.
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~Reflections always seem to happen when I’m on vacation…this was one of mine when I thought about how far I’ve come since those tender years of being lost…I think it’s good to recall the hard journeys so that we can practice gratitude in the present.~