Another year has come and gone.
I’ve tried so hard, so many times, to sit down and write a reflective blog on 2014. And I think maybe I needed to say goodbye to the year before I could finally compile my thoughts.
2014 was a year defined by extreme growth. The funny thing about growth, though, is that it rarely feels good while it’s happening… but the outcome is necessary and beneficial.
2014 didn’t feel good to me, but now that it’s over I am able to look back and see why it needed to happen.
2014 was the year I grew enough to remember why I desperately need Jesus Christ.
Something really beautiful happens when you are able to say “I can’t do this on my own anymore”… and that was 2014 for me.
I recognized that I couldn’t “heal myself” from the pain of my past, so I went back into counseling at the beginning of the year. Through the year it forced me to grow, sometimes painfully, and here I am a year later in recovery from PTSD.
I now know why it had to hurt, because without the pain I wouldn’t be healing.
Without the pain, I wouldn’t have allowed God to carry me through the times that I didn’t know if I could even get out of bed.
The pain pointed out my human inadequacies, and accentuated His holy perfection.
Later in the year I found myself stripped down. I found things falling out of my life at every turn.
I lost my job, friends made the decision to walk out of my life, my bank account was empty… it was as if I had nothing aside from my family and my God.
Growth, let me reiterate that it hurts.
I now understand the value of this season of my life, a season where depression nearly caught up to me, the beauty in this season was found in the heart of God. The one thing I had plenty of during this season was time. Time is something we never have enough of, yet suddenly I had it in abundance. The second I had it in abundance, I wished it could’ve gone away. I didn’t want time, I didn’t want to get out of bed and face another day of nothingness, I just wanted to sleep through this time of my life. But someone told me “just keep walking through this, it’s going to get better”. So I did. I started volunteering as frequently as I could, I started reading books that I had been wanting to read for years, I started praying, and I started opening my Bible.
Now let me stop right here and interject something, rewind this story a bit and explain. I didn’t say reading my Bible, I said opening it. And THAT was a massive step for me. After leaving my ex, I couldn’t open a Bible. The ways in which he had taken the Word of God and so viciously twisted it around to fit his own agenda, is the very definition of spiritual abuse. Every argument we would get in, he would scream Proverbs 21:9 to me which says "It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” But the most destructive thing he did to me, was take away the beauty of baptism. I realized that I’m fairly certain I haven’t shared this on my blog yet, so let me share my baptism story with you.
Being baptized is designed to be an outward proclamation of your decision to follow Christ. It is a very personal decision, and it’s a beautiful thing in the life of a Christian.
Well, it was a beautiful experience for everyone BUT me.
I became a Christian at a very young age, but always wanted to wait to be baptized until I was old enough to really know what I was proclaiming. Well, at the time that I got married I still had not been baptized. At this point in time my ex was still in the ministry, so naturally this topic came up one evening. The issue with this evening was that we had a group of friends over, and my ex had consumed around half of a bottle of rum and who knows how much beer. He began talking to everyone about being baptized, when one lady mentioned she wanted to get baptized that night. So we all went upstairs, we filled the bathtub up, and he baptized her. He was so drunk that he had overfilled the bathtub and water was running out of the tub and throughout the bathroom… but no one was sober enough to care except me. Well, something dawned on him in this moment and he turned and looked at me and yelled “wait a second, you haven’t been baptized yet either. How do you expect to be a pastors wife if you haven’t been baptized?!” in front of everyone. At which point he explained that he was going to baptize me right then and there. He stumbled over to me and grabbed me, sloshing through the water, and forced me into the bathtub. He was so drunk that I could smell the liquor on his breath as he began saying the usual baptism speech. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t. He dunked me under water, and I came out relieved that he didn’t try and drown me...
Yes, that was my first thought the second after I was "baptized".
As soon as my head was out of the water, he stood up and said “now clean up this mess you made” (referring to the water pouring everywhere) and walked out of the room. Within 30 minutes he was passed out drunk, and I was still finishing up cleaning up the water.
This was how I was “baptized”.
So it should come as no surprise that while I never doubted God’s existence, opening the Bible was a terrifying task for me. But in this season of growth, I started to open it. I knew that maybe if I just opened it, one day I would read it. And I did. Slowly but surely my fears went away. I was suddenly reading and studying the very words that had been used to manipulate and abuse me… but I was learning the truth, and my ex’s lies only became more obvious.
It was a beautiful thing. Because growth is a beautiful thing.
Suddenly I felt like I had everything I could ever need.
I had an amazing, loving, and faithful God who unconditionally loved me.
I had a protective God who kept me safe and alive during the years I was sleeping with my potential murderer.
I knew that my God who did all of that would not leave my side during a little struggle, so I continued to lean on Him.
But I had to open my hands, and give Him everything. He couldn't finish doing a beautiful work in my life if I wasn't willing to let go.
I had to
him to produce growth in me, in ways I had never done before.
So I did, and I am, and I will continue to be obedient to His voice.
Because I’ve learned that everything I have comes from Him, and it is that knowledge that gives me peace. If I know, unequivocally, that everything I have comes from Him… then when I am without, I know that I still have everything I need in Him.
Going into 2015, I am hopeful. I am peaceful. I have a new job. The Lord has blessed me with some amazing new friendships, showing me just how unhealthy the past ones were. I continue praying for emotional healing so that I’ll be ready for a relationship when that door opens, and I know that I’m going to love more freely now that I know what kind of love has been freely given to me.
I walk into this year eager to see what He does in me!