Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beautiful Things

Life = Pain.
It's true. 
If you don't believe it, then you haven't lived long enough to experience real heartache.  You've never experienced the death of a loved one, watched someone dear suffer through a painful disease, felt a broken heart, lived with a handicap, struggled through serious financial trouble, or stood among your shattered dreams and cried with no one to comfort you.

 If you think life is and always will be AWESOME, then just wait.  Live a few more years, sweetie. 
Sorry if that's depressing, but life isn't easy.  Did you expect it to be? 
Who ever told you that life wasn't supposed to be hard?  Jesus said, "In this world you WILL have trouble."  You thought you were exempt from that?

God has been teaching me some crazy lessons about life... to be honest, I've been walking through some dark days and deep waters in recent years, and I can't say I've particularly been enjoying any of it.  Life has been hard. Dang hard.  Aside from my own personal pains and problems, I've seen dear friends go through even heavier things, and that's sometimes harder for me than my own difficulties. 
Death. Disease. Heartbreak. Loss. Abandonment.
PAIN, in short. 

This summer, God has been working on my heart, drawing me deeper with Him, and calling me to allow Him to bring healing in my life.  I didn't want to do it.  It seems to me that the healing hurts just as bad or worse than the original wound, and I wasn't really excited about having to endure any MORE pain at this point.  ...but I told Him I want to be obedient to Him, and just asked Him to prepare me for healing, and to please be gentle with me and take it slow.  He has been so faithful! 

I have been slowly learning to see the hand of God through every dark day I've walked through, every situation where I thought He (and others) had let me down. 
Did I really think He didn't know?  Did I really think He didn't care?  Did I really think any of this hit me without passing through the hands of my Father? 
Oh, me of little faith! 

True joy is not the absence of pain or trouble.  The depth of joy is only known from the depths of true despair.
I'm reminded of the song "Held" by Natalie Grant. 
How can you know the strength and security of God's arms if you've never had to lean on Him? 
How do you know He can catch you if you've never taken a fall? 
How can you know His comfort if you've never cried a tear? 

One of the things I love about God is that He is so very gentle.  He has patiently loved me, even when I have been unwilling to allow Him to dry my tears.  He has faithfully reached for me when I have hidden from His embrace, preferring to cry in the dark loneliness than to run into His arms. 

This summer, He finally got through to me the fact that He is in control, and He always has been.  Even in situations where I thought I made mistakes, even through the times where the repercussions from the mistakes of others affected me so terribly, He was in control. 
He orchestrated every circumstance that led me to the place I am.  He guides my decisions, and He stands by me when others tell me I'm crazy for the choices I've made, and when I doubt myself that I made the right choices.  I finally know deep in my heart, that not one thing has happened to me that He did not allow and control, and that He will not use for my ultimate good and His ultimate glory. 

I'm learning to stop second-guessing God. 
I'm learning to stop beating myself up over my past and the pain I've caused other people.
I'm learning to keep my heart soft even though putting up walls and cutting myself off from people would hurt so much less. 
I'm learning that love keeps on loving, even when I'm hated, when I'm misunderstood, and when I'm at the end of my rope with some people. 
I'm learning that I have no capacity to love and forgive on my own.  I really don't.  There is no good thing in me but Jesus, and His love inside me is the only love I've got.  If I love anybody besides myself, then that's Jesus.  If I can forgive and refuse to be bitter, that's Jesus.  If I can take my bad experiences and be an encourager to someone else, that's Jesus.

He's making something beautiful out of my life, and will continue to do so as long as I will continue to fight to be surrendered.  Every part of my life under His control, every situation in my life brought before His throne, every hurt in my life brought to His healing hands.  I'll readily admit that I'm not good at this.  I want to hide away and hold all my pain close to my heart and not let anyone see or know.  Not even Him.  I want to be mad at Him sometimes, but I can't stay that way.  His love is too BIG, too powerful, too all-encompassing to hide from.  That's my God.   ...and if I love my God, I cannot withhold love from anyone else.  No matter who, no matter what, no matter how much it hurts.
  This song describes my feelings right now and is becoming a favorite.
My God is the Restorer of things lost, the Healer of things hurting, the Rebuilder of things broken, and the Lover of all who feel unloved. I'm done holding back from Him!  I choose to allow myself to be restored, healed, rebuilt and loved by the One who does it best.
I'm ready to allow Him to take every shattered piece of me and turn it into a beautiful mosaic that reflects His glory.