Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sometimes you need to remember in order to Give Thanks

I wrote the following post years ago... in one sitting... during my lunch break at work. Trying to hide the tears that kept welling up while writing from so many different emotions. I only let 5 of the people closest to me, whom I felt the safest with, read it at first. Over a year later, I shared it with three others who were going through a similar situation, and I thought it might be of an encouragement to them.

Recently, I took a big step in practicing vulnerability and shared it with the college girls in the Bible Study I am helping lead this semester. I encouraged/challenged the girls to always take time to look back over their lives to see how far they have come. And to realize that during the many times where they thought for sure they were missing out, or being held out on... those times often become some of life's greatest blessings.

My past few posts have clearly chronicled that this Thanksgiving season is not something I have really been looking forward to or engaging in. So I started taking inventory of past gifts, to refocus my vision on all the incredible, undeserving gifts, God has blessed me with in my life. I randomly remembered this post, and knew it was time to "put it out there."

As I said, it was written in one sitting. I haven't edited it at all, as I didn't want to take away from raw emotion of pain and healing these words describe. If I were to edit this, I feel sure I take away and add where addition and subtractions would alter the overall message and feelings. So here it is - raw and uncut.

But first, because she is just too stinking cute...
Gosh, I love that little bundle of joy and attitude!

And now for Thanksgiving in the Remembering
I am loving Chris August's new song, 7x70.

I've been living in this house here
Since the day that I was born
These walls have seen me happy
But most of all they've seen me torn

They've heard the screaming matches
That made a family fall apart
They've had a front row seat
To the breaking of my heart

First of all, a disclaimer. The song lyrcis depict a house tormented by upheavel and turmoil. My home life could not be further from this discription! I was deeply loved, supported and cherished by my parents. I was blessed to be raised under one of the most Christ centered marriages I have ever witnessed. When I listen to these lyrics, I invision a figurative, not literal,  house. As a Type A personality, compartmentalizing every aspect of my life is probably my second greatest talents (my first being my ability to sleep!) I can "live" in several different figurative houses, at a time. I recently had to close and lock the doors of one of my "houses".... there might even be a  "Condemned" sign on the barred door. It was a "house" I did in fact grow up in, learned a lot in, made many wonderful and cherished memories in, but was nearly crushed in these walls.

I remember running down the hallway
Playing hide and seek
I didn't know that I was searching
For someone to notice meI felt alone and undiscovered
And old enough to understand
Just when I'm s'posed to be learning to love
You let me doubt again

I felt alone and undiscovered
And old enough to understand
Just when I'm s'posed to be learning to love You
Let me doubt again

We all out grow places, relationships, and phases in life - its one of the hardest parts of growing up and walking down the roads the Lord puts down in front of you. I hate this aspect of life, especially when it invovles relationships. In a stubborn childishness, I think all relationships that have wonderful memories, should last a life time. Pollyanna and Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farms were two of my favorite book series as a kid. While they provided wonderful hours of literary entertainment, they did not necessarily give me an accurate protrayal of real  life relationships. :) I think we can all look back to certain places and times in life, when we were that kid running down the hall, playing hide and seek - being carefree and having fun. But deep down we felt somewhat alone and undiscovered, just yearning to noticed and understood. This is exactly where I was several years ago - I didn't want life to ever change, yet I realized something was missing. I thought I was what was missing - I thought I was inadequate in my relationship with Christ, and with my body of church friends (my nearest, dearest, and closest relationships.) To some extent, my relationship with Christ was lacking - I am human, therefore there will always be an emptiness inside me, pushing me to become closer with my Savior. Because of this I never want to be fully satisified. In my "Pollyanna-mindedness" I failed to see the signs that I was being called out onto a new path, with new expereinces, new relationships, etc... Instead of looking up and ahead for answers, I kept tripping along looking behind me, in the past, trying to find answers for where I went wrong. I mean, hind sight is supposed to be 20/20, right?

Just when I'm s'posed to be learning to love
You let me doubt again

I am a handful, I will be the first to admit it! I don't think I am an easy person to get to know quickly - I am very guarded and reserved, always in self-preservation mode. I mask this by asking a bazillion questions about everyone else. Then I am stupid enough to feel hurt that I  know everyone else so much better then they know me. At least, I used to be completely like this... I am pretty sure I have gotten better. During this "tripping" season in my life, while I felt so humanly alone and misunderstood, it will be one of the most precious times in my memory of my relationship with Jesus. He held me into Himself, in His embrace. He showed me areas that, yes, definitely needed to be hacked, pruned, and weeded, but He also validated so many areas that I had always been so insecure about. I have talked about some of this here. He gave me permission to be "free to be me" in Him. I tried sharing this with the people I fellowshipped with. I thought at first that I was just not able to be descriptive enough about, then when their misunderstanding continued, in my hurt, I just thought they didn't care and disrespected me. My closest friends, who I had grown up with, gone through so many hard times with, and learned so much about life with, who I thought knew me, were becoming strangers to me. I was crushed.

I lost count of the ways you let me down
But no matter how many times you weren't around
I'm all right now

In God's perfect timing, my future husband re-entered my life. It was a whirlwind romance to be sure. I threw my poor family for quite a loop! I went from "never getting married" one day, to seriously dating, engaged, and married in less then a year. Hey, when you are in your mid 20's, and you know - you know!:) He provided that safe place I had been seeking. Jared saw me, understood me, respected, andloved me... even though I have caused him a LOT of head scratching since our dating days! We knew early on in our relationship that our married life together would start in Knoxville, not my home town. Now, I was faced with figuring out how to say good-bye to so many precious and cherished relationships, that were quite broken. NOT the way my neat and oraganized, compartmentalized self likes to do things at all. What transpired in the last few months leading up my wedding day and moving away, was one of the most emotionally ravaging experiences I have experienced. What was supposed to be one of the happiest moments in my life, was scarred with breaking friendships, causing rearrangement of our wedding party the month before we said our vows. While I never dreamed of my wedding day like most girls, I did have vision in my head of who would be there celebrating, as my wedding party, if that day ever happened... this was NOT the vision inside my head.

God picked up my heart and helped me through
And shined a light on the one thing left to do...

Despite the chaos and turmoil, there was complete peace! Jared and I, and our families, knew we were in the center of His will. And I felt so safe there, despite the upheaval. Jared and I wanted our wedding to be a reflection of God's love to His church - we wanted it to witness to any searching souls who were in attendence. I prayed earnestly that all the "crap" that was surrounding us would in no way affect our marraige ceremony. We wanted to focus to be on the heavenly, not earthly. I was a worried that when I entered the sanctuary and saw my fiance, surrouned by our newly altered wedding party, that I would only see what was missing. Having never been a bride, I did not realize the ONLY thing you are aware of is your fiance's eyes and your Daddy's support, as you walk down the aisle towards you new life! We had planned a mini-worship service of three songs for after my dad had given me away. During one of the songs, I took a deep breath, and looked over my shoulder at our precious wedding party... and what I saw was completely perfect.

...And that's forgive you
I forgive you!

It has been a long, painful process. One I wouldn't wish on anyone. I have not done it perfectly. I have acted and reacted out of hurt, when I should have acted out of love. I chose to ignor the road signs God placed along my path, indicating a change of course up ahead. Had I not tenaciously fought for things to stay the same, had I not resisted the intended change for so long, had I only been honest with myself, a lot of this maybe could have been avoided. I own my part in the hole debaucle. There are scars. Scars that might be there for a long time... maybe even life. But I chose to let them reminde me of what I have learned, instead of what has been lost. Going "home" to my hometown, is still hard - there are ghosts of my former life everywhere. A life, full of relastionships, that as hard as I try not to, I still love and miss.

7 times 70 times
If that's the cost I'll pay the price
7 times 70 times
I'll do what it takes to make it right
I thought the pain was here to stay
But forgiveness made a way

We recently went back to my home town to attend the wedding. I knew I would be seeing many of the people from my past (who, as side note, are all procreating abundantly, which doesn't help things these days!) I have to "pregame" these visits weeks ahead of time, to get my heart in the right place. I had the first hour of the drive to myself, so I listened to my new Christian play list, knowing I could use a little extra "pep ralley" heading into the weekend. However, I was really suprised by how excited I was for the upcoming celebration the chance to "Get to see everyone!" I haven't felt that way in a long time.

7 times 70 times
There's healing in the air tonight
I'm reaching up to pull it down
Gonna wrap it all around
 I'm gonna wrap it all around

It struck me when I heard the final phrases to these lyrcis:
Several months ago I didn't think I had any forgiveness left to give. I still wasn't in a good place with everything, but I had nothing left to give, or any more energy left to exert towards the effort. It was a new level of releasing control of the situation. If I was ever going to make any more progress, it would have to be all Him, and very little of me. These words: There's healing in the air tonight. I'm reaching up to pull it down, gonna wrap it all around, hit me full force. All I had to to do was "reach up and pull it down" and wrap the forgiveness of my Heavenly Father " all around." He would give it to me, and in His giving, He was also providing protection for my heart.
And that's exactly what happened. I was able to celebrate at the wedding, and enjoy seeing my old friends and their growing babies... even got to love on the growing babies (dear ovaries, please explode and uterus fling your arms opend wide, thank you very much!)

7 times 70 times
There's healing in this house tonight
I'm reaching up to pull it down
Gonna wrap it all around
Yeah, I'm gonna wrap it all around

So now, in front of my formerly foreclosed and condemned "house" is a sign that reads Forgiven and Healed.

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