You see, this past year and a half was a painful one. A hurtful one. Never have I experienced such hurtfulness from others, especially in such a concentrated number. This year has seen me falsely accused of things I didn't do, name-calling (yes, I couldn't believe it either and yes, I'm talking about adults), irate emotions in my face (literally) that was the adult version of a tantrum, mocking words that made fun of my desire to serve, unrealistic expectations and demands of me, subtle overtures of disrespectful behavior, comments about my person, lies about me. I think the saddest part is that all of this has come from fellow believers in Christ. Whew, I'm exhausted just writing that all out!
And that's just it... it was exhausting and pushed me to the point of my health deteriorating and dropping me smack middle into a Lupus flare. Not a good place to be. Physically or spiritually.
All of that pain, compounded on top of each other, by different people and different environments in my life (yes, simultaneously) heaped on top of my head like burning coals, was overwhelming. The very people I had called friends and family, were tearing me down.. sometimes behind my back and sometimes to my face. It was too much for me to handle. It was the worst kind of hurt. And I cried. For many weeks. All I could do was cry and agonize and grapple with the "Why? What did I do wrong to deserve such harsh treatment from others? Why do they not like me? Have they even given me a chance?" Dangerous questions to mull, let me tell you.
By the end of summer, the torment, both externally and internally, hadn't let up. I was at max breaking point. I was angry and I could feel the roots of bitterness begin to plant their roots deep into my heart where, if I let it continue, it would choke the Spirit of God and my ability to hear His voice, right out of me. But how to weed? How do I forgive while insults and mockery continue?
But, then. Words of a friend. Wise counsel from Godly women. Friends like these -godly friends that speak the truth in love - are priceless and rare. When I wanted affirmation in my hurt, I got correction for my bitter heart. When I wanted to zing hurtful words back, I got reminders of how God asks us to behave. This, too, was a painful time. Bible verses seem to be dropping in my lap (and my heart) from a variety of sources and these, too, stung. They were painful reminders of how far I had let my attitude and focus stray. It didn't matter if I was right or wrong, I had taken my eyes off of the one who mattered, to deal with petty comments and hurtful words. To defend my reputation. A reputation, I would later learn, not worth defending. I was trapped.
It took two months for God to grab hold of me and teach me the lessons I was trying to hide from in all of this. I met Him. In a stream of healing water and He washed my wounds and He reminded me that He has never rejected me. He let me know that my focus was on the wrong people. Because it was ON people. The words and hurts these people had caused, some repeatedly and intentionally, was not where my worth comes from. My worth comes from Him. He sets my value and not people and not this world. He bought me at a price.
God took the hurts of this past year and a half and used them for good. He used them to heal me. He taught me that my reputation (or anyone or anything else's) isn't worth defending. That is not my job as it robs me of His peace and rest. My job is to defend His name alone.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit~ Psalm 34:18
God took off the chains of anger and hurt and freed me. The shackles that I had taken on and helped lock onto my wrists and ankles, had fallen off while being washed in His healing waters. I left them there at the bottom of that stream and walked out of the water, a new creation with healed wounds. I;m not sure I have ever felt God's love more tangibly than I did at that time.
Did the hurtful environments go away instantly after my experience with God? Sadly, no. Did the hurtful comments and behaviors of others go away after God's healing? No. Those things didn't change. However, I can tell you what did. I changed. Through Him, I changed. And once that happened, I could face the hurt head on, knowing Jesus was standing in front of me protecting me through the hurt. I let Him guide my responses, my behaviors, my attitude and my decisions. I turned the reigns over to Him. This healing and the lessons I did learn and continue to learn, didn't happen over night. In fact, it is still happening and I am humbly grateful.
Now, here is where I NEVER. EVER. thought I'd be nor would I ever say... I am GRATEFUL for the experiences of this past year and a half. I am so glad God allowed all of it - every hurt, mockery, scorn, lie - to come into my life. He used every single bit of it to teach me and heal me and I just want to shout from the rooftops what He has done for me. Did He go kick those people's butts and tell them to stop picking on me?? I don't think so. I honestly don't know how He handled them (or if He did). And that is the point. My focus was shifted off of them and onto Him. He directed my eyes to the areas He wanted me to work on.. not the people I wanted HIM to work on!
Grateful that God chose these people and these venues to teach me and heal me. Thrilled that He has begun a good work in me and will not stop. Humbled that He would hear the desires of my heart for release. Release from the unhealthy entanglements of others and release from a place we called home. God had to take me to a point where I had to accept no release was coming. No reprieve. No retreat from the hurt. I had to accept that. And I did.. knowing I was shielded and protected by the One who loves me and makes me new each morning.
I am thrilled to be on this journey of healing. There are days and times when the enemy tries to steal it. He tries to tinker with the foundation that has already been laid but he forgets that through the healing, my response is to grab hold and fight for God's healing and not let it be taken away. By anyone. God's healing is sweet and worth fighting for to claim as my own!
My prayer is that you too would be on your own healing journey and the burdens of this life and all the hurt it (or someone) can throw at you would melt off of your shoulders and that you would be cradled in the arms of the One who has begun a good work in you too.
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. ~Psalm 62:1-2